Title: Tender Is the Night
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Release Date: January–April 1934 (four issues)
Publisher: Scribner’s Magazine
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Rosemary Hoyt, a young American actress, is vacationing in the French Riviera with her mother. She instantly befriends Dick and Nicole Diver, a glamorous American couple who have created a rich life for their family in Europe. As Rosemary becomes more attached to Nicole, she also becomes infatuated with Dick.
The Divers’ history begins to leak out into Rosemary’s view, and suddenly the entire story floods into the narrative, though at that point Rosemary has temporarily left the story. The book begins to revolve around Dick and Nicole and becomes more interesting. Their relationship is a study of the strength one person gains from the weakness of another.
It was slow going at first, with beautiful but self-conscious prose. Though I admired Fitzgerald’s writing style, I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, and I had trouble getting into the story. I only kept going because I heard it would pick up in Book 2—and I was not disappointed.
The characters truly come alive in Book 2, and suddenly I found myself deeply involved in the story. The characters’ histories and motivations are finely wrought, and they are endearing despite their flaws.
At the risk of over-analyzing the connection between the author’s life and his work, it seems to me that the best parts of the book were the ones that came from his personal experience, particularly in regard to loving someone with mental illness.
The setting is also worth mentioning. The tale moves from the brilliant sun of the South of France, to the parties and society of Paris, to the fresh snow of Switzerland. My favorite thing about reading is learning new things, particularly about places I’ve never been, and Tender Is the Night offers a vivid image of some of the most opulent vacation spots of its time.
I found the story well-written and enjoyable, in spite of its slow parts. Fitzgerald showcases his storytelling talent with his many-layered characters, and his scene descriptions and dialogue are superb.