Set in pre-WW1, the novel follows Anthony Patch and his socialite wife Gloria through excess and alcohol addiction as they wait to inherit a sizable fortune that never seems to drop.
I was new to Fitzgerald before picking up this novel, which is perhaps what prompted me to seek out this 1922 book about social class and marriage. I will be returning to Fitzgerald again because The Beautiful and Damned was full of heady, sumptuous vocabulary and characters engaging for the simple fact that they are so damn human. Anthony and Gloria are fabulously pretentious at the best of times and vain, despicable humans at the worst of times, but a reader never seems to fully dislike them. They do not contain the heroic traits of a typical classical protagonist, but they don't cross into victim or villain territory. They just ... exist. The pair experiences everything from desperate lust, the superiority of a young love, the coping mechanisms of a relationship hitting the mundane, and complete financial disarray. All the while, the two attempt to hold onto their social graces, passion, and their past.
Some main themes of the novel include denial, the past and how it can affect the present and the future, and how love can change and either grow or shrivel over time. All can be plucked from the pages at the reader's own discretion. I would imagine this book receives a slightly different reading by nearly everyone, simply due to its relationship with the most intimate parts of the human psyche.
Readers, prepare to spiral down with a man who never learned to work for himself and a woman who never learned how to survive without her beauty. Be patient with it, as the novel doesn't always fly by. But overall, a stunning look at human emotion and the human experience.
Page: 198 // ASIN: B00847O20A // Publication Date: May 2012 // Fiction - Classics