One of my favorite authors of all time is F. Scott Fitzgerald. He is best known for his 1925 novel The Great Gatsby he was able to define the Jazz Age for many generations. The book that I chose for 1920 through 1939 for the 2016 Reading Challenge is This Side of Paradise. Premiering in 1920 this book is one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finest works.
The book is split into three parts following the life of Amory Blaine. A young mid westerner he is heading off to Princeton with a promising future. Leaving behind his eccentric mother and her close friends, he finds freedom that he has never had before. When he runs into Isabella he is taken by her and the two quickly begin a relationship. However, she breaks up with him after her becoming disenchanted with her from prom.
The interlude follows Amory as he travels overseas to serve in the army. World War I has broken out and he finds a sense of comfort. However, we do not fully learn the extent of Amory’s service in the army. Only that he was a bayonet instructor for most of the time.
In the final part of the book Amory Blaine goes to New York There he falls in love with socialite Rosalind Connage. Unfortunately, due to Amory’s social status the relationship falls apart quickly. When Rosalind marries a wealthy man Amory decides to return to the Midwest. There he tries to find his mothers good friend Monsignor Darcy. When he learns that he passed away he is further crushed. In his final lament he realizes that he can only depend upon himself before falling into a deep depression before the book ends.
The events following Amory Blaine reflect F. Scott Fitzgeralds relationship with Zelda Sayre. In the summer of 1919 she had broken off a courtship with him causing him to sink into drinking and returning to his home town. Most of what Amory went through reflects the pain that Fitzgerald felt during the summer of 1919. This Side of Paradise came out in 1920 to show two sides of love. Amory’s love with Rosalind reflects social status and greed, while his relationship with Isabella reflects status seeking.
Amory craved what Rosalind and Isabella never had to fight for because they were born into it. Amory wanted to be a part of the socialite class only to find himself failing each time he tried. All of this caused Amory to reflect on what he gave up for in order to have a life that he craved. Only to return there in the end to find that many of the people in his old life had moved on or died. causing him to regret many of his decisions. This Side of Paradise has made me think about some of the decisions I make wondering if they really are for better or worse.