The Underwhelming Gatsby…

Instead of the Great American novel we expected from our second virtual reading group choice The Great Gatsby we were all left feeling rather underwhelmed and pondering why it ever became a classic.

We expected to be able to escape from current events into the glitz and glamour of 1920s Long Island but the lavish parties, excess, self-interest and lack of redeeming qualities in any of the characters jarred with us all. Ironically we had most sympathy with Jay Gatsby despite his lies, manipulations and absence of morals.

The novel wasn’t a success when first published but we felt that the romanticism of this period of American history, film adaptations and education use have helped to maintain its popularity. Whilst the storyline works we felt the language was overblown but interspersed by a few gems. Maybe we are biased but felt the novel doesn’t compare well to some of our English classic novels and the era is better portrayed by other U.S. authors.

Many of us had seen at least one film version so were looking forward to reading the novel but it speaks volumes that we all agreed we were glad the novel wasn’t any longer!

Let’s hope our next short novel will make a more satisfying read. The next book is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and the meeting is on Wednesday 29/7/20 at 12 noon via MS Teams – the book is in stock in the library Time Out collection, or can be accessed as an eBook at:

The eBook requires an Open Athens password to access, register for free at

Look forward to seeing you all online at the end of the month and hearing what you think of it and anything else you’ve read.