f scott fitzgerald review
Books

#CurrentlyReading: The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’d apologise for the radio silence over the last few months but that’d mean apologising for dealing with life itself. Besides, it feels a little presumptuous to apologise as though people were waiting for me to post something here. So let’s skip the pleasantries and get right into it, shall we?

I recently moved into a bigger bedroom, and it was during the third or fourth trip upstairs with an armful of books that I realised how out of hand my reading backlog had become. I’ve been on a relatively strict (for me) book-buying ban for a while now, and the plan is not to buy any new books until I’ve worked my way through at least 20 novels. Hell, I might avoid buying any until I buy my own house just because I’m tired of hauling things around Newcastle for the time being. Anyway, on to the actual book.

The Beautiful and Damned (1922)

I loved every bit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925), so I’d been looking for another of his novels to get stuck into for a while when I came across this strong title; even if you’ve never heard of the guy, you’ve got to admit he’s got a knack for titles. So without really reading the blurb, Fitzgerald’s second novel made its way into my not-so-little collection. I found it to be a bit of a slow burn at first, but things do pick up when Anthony Patch, the protagonist, sets his sights on a sparkling socialite named Gloria Gilbert. That might sound like the introduction to a soppy romcom, but trust me, it’s not.

The Beautiful and Damned is a novel of decadence. It follows Anthony, a somewhat lackadaisical-but-jittery socialite and heir to his grandfather’s fortune, through his courtship and relationship with free-spirited Gloria. Slivers of World War I make it into the plot, but that’s far from the main focus of the story; what I can’t shake is the sense of apathy and indolence that seems to radiate from the two characters – Anthony in particular. It is a meditation on love and money, certainly, but there also seems to be this running theme of action versus inaction throughout the novel, primarily because the protagonists are crippled by an idealisation of, and obsession with, the past, to the extent that it consumes their present. As a reader, I almost want to reach into the text and shake the two twenty-somethings awake, at once frustrated by the nothing that they seem adept at doing and exasperated by selfishness so incredible it borders on narcissism.

“Tired, tired with nothing, tired with everything, tired with the world’s weight he had never chosen to bear.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

So in terms of how effective the novel is in making me feel things as a reader, I’d say it’s pretty damn good. The writing itself is beautiful, almost poetic at times, but I wouldn’t describe it as un-put-down-able.

“Things are sweeter when they’re lost. I know–because once I wanted something and got it. It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot, and when I got it it turned to dust in my hand.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

It’s definitely worth a read, especially if you’re interested in Fitzgerald beyond his most popular work. You know, the one so many people love because of Leonardo di Caprio. No shade.

books by f scott fitzgerald

Have you read anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald? What did you think? Thoughts and recommendations welcome in the comments below!

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book review caitlin moran how to be a woman
Books, review, thoughts

#CurrentlyReading: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

book reviews

If you know me, you’ll know that I have something of an addiction to books. I own roughly 350 books spread across 4 bookshelves around my house, and I have absolutely no intention of stopping until I get my own Beauty and the Beast style library. Am I asking for too much? Possibly. Will I give up? Unlikely. Anyway, unhealthy obsession aside – I’m starting a series of blog posts called #CurrentlyReading – essentially book reviews before I’ve finished the book, just because the book in question is just too damn good to wait (or  too terrible to continue).

caitlin moran how to be a woman

To kick off this literary love-affair, I’m excited to share Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, published in 2011 by Ebury Press.  I first heard about Moran through one of my favourite BookTubers (Leena from JustKissMyFrog), and put her on my to-read list along with another 20 or so books. I completely forgot that I wanted to buy How to Be a Woman until I saw it at Blackwell’s in Newcastle (also known as my second personal nirvana after Waterstones) and quickly snapped it up before my little brain could forget again. I am now hooked. This book is part-memoir, part-humour, and 100%  pure wit. She takes us through her own life, from awkward childhood through to impossible puberty and that mysterious thing called Womanhood in a seemingly effortless thread of questions, like:

  • Why do women get Brazilians?
  • Do we have to get Brazilians?
  • Why is everyone asking me about babies?
  • Why is everyone asking me about my love life?
  • Why is everyone getting married?
  • What about porn?
  • Why do bras hurt?
  • Is there a better name for ‘the vagina’?
  • What are the worst names for ‘the vagina’?
  • What’s this ‘fashion’ thing?
  • Children?!

And so on and so forth, hilariously mingled with Moran’s very relatable personal anecdotes. I rarely laugh-out-loud when reading, but this one has had me snorting cappuccino out of my nose in the most unattractive way possible. One of the blurbs on the cover is from Grazia and describes the book as, “The book EVERY woman should read.” Quite frankly I’d like to take this further and say anyone who is or indeed knows a woman should read it, even if it’s just for the laughs. We do our best learning when we’re laughing anyway. I like to think so, at least.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or anything else by Caitlin Moran in a comment below! What are your thoughts? Is this something you’d read?

-Kelly

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