By: Linda M. Crate
When I first began reading Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night I immediately fell in love with the flowery musical lyric of it all. It was so wonderful and beautiful that I couldn’t have imagined that there would be a point where something in this book would turn me against it. I was intrigued by the emotions that carried the characters, and in particular of the character Rosemary.
I thought she had a lot of potential.
However, as the book wore on I found it wasn’t about Rosemary at all (much to my chagrin), but rather about the characters that I developed a disliking for ever since the book began — Dick and Nicole.
I’ll admit it was a little interesting to see how their relationship developed through the years, but that wasn’t something that I was particularly intrigued by. I had sympathy for Nicole and all her hardships and mental incapacities, surely, but there was something inexplicable about her that I never liked. As for Richard he was another can of worms entirely. I found him to be too much of the typical ‘manly man’. Always showing off for younger women and the like was quite irritating. Not to mention I never really think he did love Nicole. I think he liked the idea of her, but not her herself. The idea that he cheated on her with Rosemary truly brought forth my annoyance.
However, I plowed on trying to find a snippet of the little actress growing into a woman. I was curious to what would become of her, but Fitzgerald disappointed me there. In the end, Rosemary is dismissed as a one dimensional character who was never anything more in the book than Dick’s lover or the sad puppy chasing him around. This irked me.
I felt that she should have changed somehow, become someone stronger. It would have been interesting if she had become something or done anything in Dick’s absence. Yet she just flounders through life waiting for him? I just couldn’t comprehend that. At some point one would assume that she would move on.
While it was a lovely written book, I feel that there was something lacking in it. It was carried on emotions, not logic, and I couldn’t find anything tender about the night. The night seemed rather poisonous and dangerous. Toxic to anyone that touched Dick’s charisma.
To be certain when I finished I was glad it was over. Glad to be free of the yellow book that hounded me when I walked through the shelves of books at the library.
Categories: Literary criticism