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She combines this with expert knowledge of what previous researchers have dug…. Want to read more? Subscribe now and get unlimited digital access on web and our smartphone and tablet apps, free for your first month. You are currently logged out. Log in Register. Sarah Churchwell clearly loves her subject and knows Gatsby inside out.

She offers a succession of insights and retells details of the Gatsby story, often with generous quotes, which of course are joyous to recall. We meet the New York literati of the era and follow the parties and adventures that befall them, learning that young Scott was acclaimed early as the most accurate chronicler of The Jazz Age the moniker coined by himself , and that this reputation would eventually result in the critical dismissal of his masterpiece, regarded by most readers at the time as mere poetic reportage. The depth of his themes didn't surface in the American consciousness until about , a generation after it was written and almost a decade after his death.

It's astonishing to learn that The Great Gatsby was a publishing failure, knowing as we do that had he lived the author would have become a multimillionaire on the royalties of that one small work on its own. He himself knew of, and declared privately to various intimates, its profundity. He was elated at his labour's conclusion, feeling he'd channeled something magnificent and unprecedented.

As he had.

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But he was never to know of the love and reverence with which millions would come to regard it today. He died practically a pauper, and like Gatsby's, his funeral was attended by barely a handful. The research supporting this work is intense.

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Sarah Churchwell has delved into the records, diaries and writings of nearly everyone she mentions, plus every press article that survives, cross-referencing it all with a meticulous, light and ironic hand. While you may not agree with all her opinions, others may impress, such as her clear observation that the novel is almost entirely about cheating Fitzgerald might prefer the more romantic 'illusion' - but her understanding of and passion for the work she's celebrating are deep.


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The book is rich in detail: you learn practically every American slang term that made its first appearance in You discover that in that year, the Charleston wasn't danced. And that taxi cabs sported the Swastika. And until this near-party of a book came my way, I knew of Zelda only that she had a reputation, but of its precise nature I'd been never aware. This journey carries us right through to the deaths of both Fitzgeralds, and Zelda's, for all its tragedy, is a doozie.

Presumably re-issued to cash in on the recent screen adaptation, the volume is a handsome hardcover, jacketless but satisfyingly sturdy. American born, the author lives in England with an English husband and a career as an academic in American studies for the British. Somewhat unnecessarily, and possibly in a publisher's gambit to give the work some 'point of difference', Churchwell endeavours to link a sensational double-murder that took place in New Jersey in to Fitzgerald's creative process: the conceit is somewhat tenuous in my opinion, irrelevant and something of a waste of space, but it's diverting enough, peters out harmlessly and indeed, as just another in the rainbow of social colours with which she adorns her rich presentation, did nothing to dampen the delight I got from this read.

Since the publication of The Great Gatsby in , it has been talked and talked about. Some people were forced to read it in high school, some hate it and others love it.

Scott Fitzgerald and what was happening during the Jazz era. More specifically the months when this classic too place. I loved The Great Gatsby, the first time I read it I got little out of it see review but Since the publication of The Great Gatsby in , it has been talked and talked about.

The Jazz Age: Sarah Churchwell and Kevin Jackson with Nicolette Jones

I loved The Great Gatsby, the first time I read it I got little out of it see review but the second time around, I feel like I really understood it see that review as well. It has been widely though that The Great Gatsby was autobiographical in nature so understanding F. Scott Fitzgerald is important when reading this classic critically. Sarah Churchwell has made life a little easier for people that love and want to learn more about this novel. Careless People looks at the text and then different events that were happening at the time of writing this novel.

She also talks about the Fitzgeralds a very interesting couple and tries to give us some context about the motivations and thoughts behind this Magnum opus. So you get historical context as well as a unique look into the lives of the Fitzgeralds and what we call the Jazz Age.

I really enjoyed this book, as a lover of The Great Gatsby not the terrible movie I found it fascinating to learn about just what has happening at that time, especially in New York and F.

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Scott Fitzgerald. One of the most interesting thinks I learnt from the book was about the lexicon, and new words coined at the time that are used today. Something I often worry about when reading a non-fiction book like that is referencing. It is not common practice but I seem to respect a book more if I can see where information was found. Careless People did a great job with this; over 50 pages of notes and a bibliography so if you are interested like me you can look further and do some independent researching.

Part biography, literary criticism, history and true crime, Careless People has a lot of information in it but it is only a scratching the surface on all accounts. I wish I had this much to say about a book, especially the ones I love; I just want to dive in and learn all I can about it.

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I often struggle to write a review post, but one day I hope I can pull something off like this; keep an eye out for my page reviews. It is clear that Churchwell is passionate about The Great Gatsby. This would be a great companion next time you read the classic, I can imagine how helpful it would be. I loved Careless People; I want to read more books like this, particularly about novels I love. Fitzgerald was planning his new novel and he wanted to do something different - it would take him two years to finish Gatsby and, in a way, this is a biography of a novel.

For, in this book, the author cleverly takes us through the time that Scott and Zelda spent in New York - the events that influenced him and the eighteen months he spent in Great Neck, just outside the "The Great Gatsby" was first published in , but Fitzgerald set the novel in , when he and Zelda returned to New York.

For, in this book, the author cleverly takes us through the time that Scott and Zelda spent in New York - the events that influenced him and the eighteen months he spent in Great Neck, just outside the city.

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This book seeks the origins of Gatsby, reconstructs the Jazz Age, and shows how Fitzgerald reflected the stories around him. The major news story at that time was that of the murder of Eleanor Mills, a married woman, and her lover Edward Hall; who were shot through the head near an abandoned farmhouse, their love letters scattered around the corpses. The murder of the adulterous couple held America spellbound and was in the newspapers for virtually the entire time that Fitzgerald was in New York. When Scott and Zelda decided to look for a house in Great Neck, it was a former fishing village that was becoming popular with the rich and famous - "the Hollywood of the East" and which he re-named 'West Egg' in his novel.

His time there is exhausting to even read about, with a backdrop of financial swindles, scandals and fads, car accidents, bootleggers, speakeasies, endless parties, bad behaviour and epic drinking binges. Throughout "Careless People", Sarah Churchwell ties everything together into how it relates to The Great Gatsby, with the chapters of her book corresponding to the chapters of the novel. As the murder trial which fascinated the country descended into debacle, the parties blended into one another - of one party, Zelda wrote, "nobody knew whose party it was.

It had been going on for weeks That, anyway, was the plan. Indeed, it hadn't suffered, far from it. Obviously, this book has been released now to tie in with the new film version. Whether you are coming to Gatsby through watching the film or have long been a lover of the novel, you will find this book about how and when Gatsby was written fascinating. Equally interesting, is the story of the murder investigation and trial, which the author follows throughout.

Overall, this is a fascinating account of a bygone era and the story behind a great work of literature. View 2 comments. The nineteen twenties were a very interesting period in history and what made Fitzgerald so fascinating is that his novels documented this period, the Jazz age, perfectly. A fascinating look at this time, of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, their opulent lifestyle, his struggles to keep writing amidst the constant partying and drinking.

Churchwell does a wonderful job bringing this period to light as well as showing the reader a couple in constant flux.