Tender is the night, a romance

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hardcover, 1934

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

New York, C. Scribner's sons, 1934.

Description

A story of Americans on the French Riviera in the 1930s is a portrait of psychological disintegration as a wealthy couple supports friends and hangers-on financially and emotionally at the cost of their own stability.

Media reviews

The beauty of Tender lies as much in its parts as its whole. In just a snatch of dialogue or a few lines of description, Fitzgerald can evoke the happy, troubled and perilous balance of a group of friends or the moment when a long friendship is ruined for good. Pre-occupied with surfaces, he is never limited by them. His most persuasive characters are complex self-reflective creations; glamorous, but with a questioning intelligence, a sense of irony and the possibility of true integrity which makes it all the more tragic when they sacrifice themselves for cheap pleasures or worldly effect.
2 more
The Nation
"a confused exercise in self-pity"
"Compared to the motivation in Faulkner, it is logic personified. "

User reviews

LibraryThing member copyedit52
Dick Diver, whom Fitzgerald introduces through the implied point of view of Rosemary, a young Hollywood starlet, resembles the author's more renowned and equally enigmatic creation, Gatsby. Except Dick actually does something we can get a handle on: he's a doctor who knows a few things about psychology, one with a few blind spots about his own makeup. When we begin to see Dick's vulnerabilities, and the Gatsby-like underpinning of his backstory, Tender Is the Night takes flight.

The same can be said Dick's wife, Nicole, a character drawn from on Fitzgerald's problematic real-life partner, Zelda. A formidable woman, as seen by Rosemary, the young ingenue, Nicole too is psychically fleshed out as the perfect couple begin to flounder. A head case of a different sort than Dick, she is in her own way as enigmatic.

The two of them lead the high life on the French Riviera, in Paris and in Switzerland. Money, and the society that takes it for granted, supplies the setting, the travel, the hotel rooms at the Ritz and skiing vacations in Gstaad. But psychology, of course, is another matter. Money won't buy happiness in that realm, which we discover is not quite Dick's sinecure, that in fact he sees himself a kept man as the effect he has on those around him wanes--though his acuity remains intact--and as Nicole begins to assert herself.

Tender Is the Night has much in common with its predecessor, This Side of Paradise, as well as Gatsby. In the latter, however, Fitzgerald put it all together, moving beyond the subjective inconsistencies of the privileged class and its assumptions about which he was both acutely aware but as a writer occasionally shorthand. Nevertheless, his struggle to define his protagonists is there in all the books, and makes this one a worthwhile read.
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LibraryThing member girlunderglass
Read this last month and found I kept postponing the moment I had to review it because I didn't know what to write about it. Let me start by saying that there are two editions of Tender Is the Night: the book was originally published as a narrative with a non-linear sequence of events, but an edition issued after Fitzgerald's death was restructured - based on the writer's own notes - so that the events are recounted in the order in which they happen. The one I read was the latter. I don't know whether it is because of this re-arranging of events in a chronological order that I found the first third-or-so of the book particularly tiresome. The plot wasn't going anywhere, the characters were not particularly engaging at best - downright dull at worst - and I was particularly annoyed with Fitzgerald's writing style. I felt that he kept hinting at some life-altering truth beneath his words but he just won't get it out in the open and be done with it. He kept tantalizing the reader: overanalyzing, it seemed, the surface of the matter when he could have gotten to its rotten core in no time.

Having decided I will not give up on the novel yet, I persevered until it started to grow on me. Not in the sense of some sort of love or emotional bond being born, but in the sense of a delicate, deeper sense of appreciation. Having finished the book and looking back on it...I never did get to love the Divers. But had I given up on it halfway through I would still think, for example, that Dick Diver is a boring stereotype. Now I know him to be none other than Dick Diver: ambitious psychiatrist, drunkard, troublemaker, self-obsessed, disturbed, pitiable, enviable, talented, kind, mean, manipulative, money-loving, selfless, caring, insightful - and a hundred other things at once. I know Nicole to be Nicole and Rosemary to be Rosemary. And I do feel I'm a slightly better person for having gotten to know them; for experiencing the complex relationships, the subtle characterizations, the conflicting feelings, the underlying melancholy of the book. I still don't love any of the characters; but wouldn't dream of saying they are dull. I still don't like Fitzgerald's writing style; but wouldn't dream of saying it is bad. I'm still not sure I like this book; but wouldn't dream of saying I wish I hadn't read it.
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LibraryThing member gbill
I’ll be frank - I didn’t think I would care for this book. Fitzgerald spent nine years writing it and by the time it was published in 1934, America was in the throes of the Great Depression; to read of the wealthy in the south of France at this time seemed in some way a little wrong to me. Hemingway’s praise of Fitzgerald’s talent while at the same time describing the chaos of his life and marriage to Zelda (see “A Moveable Feast”) did not further enamor me to the man, however, with all of that said, I decided to give “Tender is the Night” a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised. The book could have used a little editing and tightening up in the beginning as well as the end, but if you wrestle with it early, I recommend patience. There are a lot of powerful themes here.

The plot is not told linearly and it unfolds over the book (stop reading here if you don’t want to know more), but simply put, Dick Diver is a psychologist who has fallen in love with Nicole, the “scarcely saved waif of disaster”, a wealthy patient who is erratic and not completely mentally stable. Obviously Fitzgerald relies heavily on his own tortured marriage here. Dick marries Nicole and the two lead the life of rich socialites, but beneath the surface, in addition to the wear of being both a husband and a doctor to her, the thrill is gone. Enter Rosemary, an eighteen year old Hollywood actress, who quickly falls in love with Dick, despite the age gap and his marital status. Along the way it is revealed that Nicole’s mental instability stems from sexual abuse she suffered as a child by her own father; Fitzgerald does not dwell on this, alluding to it on a single page, but it is all the more powerful and heartbreaking as a result.

Despite not being able to leave his wife and commit to the younger girl, Dick is tortured by jealousy over her, as she is just coming into her own and blooming in life. Fitzgerald makes great use of recurring, haunting inner dialogue that Dick imagines Rosemary to have had with other lovers when reminded of her at odd moments (“Do you mind if I pull down the curtain?”).

Occasionally the dialogue and phrasing of eighty years ago brings a little smile (“Look, I’m in an extraordinary condition about you. When a child can disturb a middle-aged gent – things get difficult.”), but the feelings and emotions usually ring true, and the interplay between Dick and the women in his life is always interesting (“Come and sit on my lap close to me”, he said softly, “and let me see about your lovely mouth.”).

While Nicole and Rosemary both get stronger over the course of time, Dick degenerates into alcoholism and regret over both loves. From seeming to have it all to not living up to his full potential, and fading out into obscurity … clearly one of Fitzgerald’s own fears, and perhaps the fear of many. Thumbs up.

Quotes:
On death:
“…thinking first that old selfish child’s thought that comes with the death of a parent, how will it affect me now that this earliest and strongest of protections is gone?”

On love:
“She looked out obediently at the rather bare green plain with its low trees of six years’ growth. If Dick had added that they were now being shelled she would have believed him that afternoon. Her love had reached a point where now at least she was beginning to be unhappy, to be desperate.”

“Again the names – then they lurched together as if the taxi had swung them. Her breasts crushed flat against him, her mouth was all new and warm, owned in common. They stopped thinking with an almost painful relief, stopped seeing; they only breathed and sought each other. They were both in the gray gentle world of a mild hangover of fatigue when the nerves relax in bunches like piano strings, and crackle suddenly like wicker chairs. Nerves so raw and tender must surely join other nerves, lips to lips, breast to breast…
They were still in the happier stages of love. They were full of brave illusions about each other, tremendous illusions, so that the communion of self with self seemed to be on a plane where no other human relations mattered.”

“He wheeled off his bicycle, feeling Nicole’s eyes following him, feeling her helpless first love, feeling it twist around inside him. He went three hundred yards up the slope to the other hotel, he engaged a room and found himself washing without a memory of the intervening ten minutes, only a sort of drunken flush pierced with voices, unimportant voices that did not know how much he was loved.”

I love this one:
“Walking in the garden when it was quite dark he thought about her with detachment, loving her for her best self. He remembered once when the grass was damp and she came to him on hurried feet, her thin slippers drenched with dew. She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.
‘Think how you love me,’ she whispered. ‘I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am to-night.’”

As well as this one, on love reunited as well as May-December romances:
“He guessed that she had had lovers and had loved them in the last four years. Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged – the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve the relation. The past drifted back and he wanted to hold her eloquent giving-of-herself in its precious shell, till he enclosed it, till it no longer existed outside him. He tried to collect all that might attract her – it was less than it had been four years ago. Eighteen might look at thirty-four through a rising mist of adolescence; but twenty-two would see thirty-eight with discerning clarity.”

On pain:
“One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still.”

On parenting, and the dangers of over-protectiveness:
“The father, normal and conscientious himself, had tried to protect a nervous brood from life’s troubles and had succeeded merely in preventing them from developing powers of adjustment to life’s inevitable surprises.”

On simplicity:
“’You know, you’re a little complicated after all.’
‘Oh no,’ she assured him hastily. ‘No, I’m not really – I’m just a – I’m just a whole lot of different simple people.’”

On war, this after WWI and how ironic that WWII was a handful of years away:
“’See that little stream – we could walk to it in two minutes. It took the British a month to walk to it – a whole empire walking very slowly, dying in front and pushing forward from behind. And another empire walked very slowly backward a few inches a day, leaving the dead like a million bloody rugs. No Europeans will ever do that again in this generation.’”

On women:
“Women are necessarily capable of almost anything in their struggle for survival and can scarcely be convicted of such man-made crimes as ‘cruelty.’ So long as the shuffle of love and pain went on within proper walls Mrs. Speers could view it with as much detachment and humor as a eunuch.”

On writing for the masses:
“Soon you will be writing little books called ‘Deep Thoughts for the Layman,’ so simplified that they are positively guaranteed not to cause thinking.”

Lastly a bit of humor; the character of Abe North is funny:
“Abe North was talking to her about his moral code: ‘Of course I’ve got one,’ he insisted, ‘- a man can’t live without a moral code. Mine is that I’m against the burning of witches. Whenever they burn a witch I get all hot under the collar.’”
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LibraryThing member Widsith
I mean…it begins badly, tails off a bit in the middle, and the less said about the ending the better.

Occasionally, there are books that leave you at a loss as to how to dismiss them. Reading this I kept thinking of a line from Stoppard's The Real Thing: ‘There’s something scary about stupidity made coherent. I can deal with idiots, and I can deal with sensible argument, but I don’t know how to deal with you.’ Tender is the Night is not stupid, but it is, if you like, triviality made coherent. The story of a wealthy married couple going through a mid-life crisis, it's such a nothingy narrative couched in formally perfect prose that attacking it feels like swinging at a ghost – the disparity between form and content is dizzying. It's like watching Stephen Hawking spend half an hour punching something into his speech computer, only to hear it reel off a haiku about Joey Essex.

Where to start. Construction-wise, it's a complete mess; Fitzgerald realised this, and was still rearranging chapters until he died, hoping for a rehabilitation which the novel has eventually found (it was panned on release). In its original, and most commonly printed, form, the first hundred and twenty pages introduce a baffling profusion of characters with no discernible story, at which point the narrative drops back a few years to set up the main couple of Dick and Nicole, a charmless pair of socialites based fairly closely on F. Scott and Zelda.

A chronological reordering might, perhaps, solve some of the problems, although personally I would advocate cutting the opening section altogether, dropping the middle bit, and then drastically abridging the end section, so that you're left with a slim pamphlet consisting of a nice speech about the First World War, some good descriptions of Zurich, an extramarital fumble in a French hotel room, and then a speedy conclusion. Job done.

Instead it just goes on and on, retailing anecdotes about peripheral characters who seem to spend the whole book going through a series of boring encounters designed only to highlight the period's casual racism, homophobia and misogyny. It's difficult to overstress how little I cared about anyone in here. The settings – Nice, Rome, Lausanne – should provide colour, but in fact they have few distinguishing features, becoming interchangeable stops on a general American-eye view of Yurp. In Gatsby I had loved Fitzgerald's nocturnal flights of melancholy prose; here, instead, he seems to be in a sort of Hemingway mode, all flat cynicism and brittle dialogue and bitter comments about ‘the opportunistic memory of women’.

Most of all, perhaps, I hated the equation drawn between professional productivity and personal happiness. The long, drawn-out decline and fall which comprises the latter half of the novel tries to show that Dick is a failure as a man because he never completed his book and because he develops a greater affection for his children. Don't get me wrong, Dick is – well – he's a dick, isn't he – but all the same, I thought it seemed a bit unfair to argue that because he chooses not to fight to keep his adulterous wife, and instead ends up practising medicine in a tiny town in New York state, that he's somehow therefore an archetypal symbol of a wasted life.
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LibraryThing member tripleAgirl
A screwed up story about a bunch of people with almost unlimited resources who somehow seem deprived of the sense they were born with. I was so happy when it ended.
LibraryThing member richardhobbs
First Edition inscribed by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sprawling signature - possibly drunk at time.
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
I started reading this on Mar 10, 1952, and described it that day as eminently readable. On Mar 11 I called it a tour de force, and said it was by far the best I'd read of Fitzgerald's work. Of course I draw morals from the story: the unhappiness of wealth, the dangers of weak-willedness in regard to liquor. I thought the author a little weak when dealing with the actual exhibition of mental illness and its manifestation, but he is superb when dealing with the bored, the distressed, and the frenzied. He is wonderful at depicting social embarrassment, and the after effects. He is on such sure ground I tthink mainly because he lived the kind of life he did. He stands out in in his novels--he is much more obvious--because he lived at a full, riotous, and crazy pace and so endured so much. This is the best novel I've read so far this year.. I finsihd the book on March 12 and said the ending was weak but suitable.… (more)
LibraryThing member KimMR
In 1932, F Scott Fitgerald was living in suburban Baltimore. His father had recently died and his wife Zelda had been committed to a psychiatric institution in Switzerland. He finally decided that the novel on which he had been working on and off since the publication of “The Great Gatsby” in 1925 would be about the destruction of a man of great promise through an ill-judged marriage. In writing the novel, Fitzgerald liberally used material from his life. This material included his relationship with Zelda, their life together in France, the life-style of wealthy American expatriates Gerald and Sara Murphy, the death of his father, his alcoholism, what he had learned about psychiatry since Zelda had her first mental breakdown, and his despair at what he considered to be the waste of his potential as a writer.

The novel which emerged from this extraordinarily difficult period in Fitzgerald's life is not easy to read. At first I thought I didn't want to keep reading, so little did I care about the characters and their concerns. However, when the narrative moved into flashback, detailing the circumstances leading up to the marriage of the central characters, Dick and Nicole Driver, I became interested in the narrative and that interest was sustained until the end.

Knowing that this is the most autobiographical of Fitzgerald's works and understanding a little about the circumstances under which he wrote it adds poignancy to the reading experience. Fitzgerald clearly felt very sorry for himself, but from that self-pity was born a powerful and haunting novel.
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LibraryThing member jmoncton
This is one of those books where it's hard to say you actually enjoy reading it, but by the end, you're glad that you did. None of the characters are likable or even sympathetic, but their behaviors really make you think and want to discuss the book with someone else. Definitely a good book club choice.
LibraryThing member donaldgallinger
Not the most cohesive of Fitzgerald's work, Tender is the Night does deliver on Fitzgerald's beautiful prose and heartbreaking characterizations. The novel explores the disintegration of a promising young American doctor whose idealism comes under the crushing weight of hard capitalistic power. At times it becomes difficult to believe in the main character's steady decline since early in the novel he is depicted as so brilliant and thoughtful. However, Fitzgerald tries (and generally succeeds) in making the argument that American idealism is a fragile thing and not impervious to the destructive power of money.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
The novel tells the story of the Nicole and Dick Diver, a wealthy, American couple living in Europe in the early 20th century. As the story opens they are introduced to a young movie actress, Rosemary, who is infatuated with Dick and with the lifestyle the Divers and their friends enjoy. Slowly Rosemary, and the reader, watches the Divers’ marriage disintegrate, and Dick, in particular, descend into alcoholic despair.

There is no question that Fitzgerald could write brilliantly. It is a complex and thought-provoking look at human failing, at fear and weakness, and at self-destruction. However, I could not stand any of the characters, and really did not care what happened to them. Maybe it’s his focus on this very hedonistic lifestyle. This is not the first work by Fitzgerald I’ve read and I’ve had a similar reaction in the past. I’ve also read books by other authors who shone a bright light on a wealthy class – Edith Wharton for example – without feeling that same disconnection with their characters or complete distaste for their lifestyle. I give it 4 stars based on the strength of Fitzgerald’s writing; it is full of exquisitely crafted passages which simply took my breath away.

Trevor White does a wonderful job of performing the audio book. His pacing and voice inflection breathed life into the characters.
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LibraryThing member PatsyMurray
If you have ever wondered what it was like to roam with the Fitzgeralds, the Hemingways and the Murphys in the 1920s, this book provides a good sense of what it must have been like. Only semi-autobiographial, of course, it is a book less about events than about how men and women can inflict emotional pain on one another. It also suggests a way out of that pain: think independently of the social norms others want to enforce. When Nicole is finally able to do that for herself, Dick sacrifices himself and walks away. Along the way he's made a complete hash out of his life so his leaving falls flat as a noble gesture, but he's made a complete hash out of it because he was never true to himself. There's always the shadow that he married Nicole for her money, even though that doesn't seem to be true. His life is made up of fighting these shadows and he never got clear of them.

It's definitely an uneven book, but the language can be gorgeous and so unlike Hemingway's.
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LibraryThing member zip_000
An amazing book - the sense of dissipation is really quite palpable. Fitzgerald seems able to somehow create real to life characters with just a few strokes.

I'm having a hard time coming up with exactly what I want to say about the book except that it was really fantastic. There were some flaws certainly, and at times the stylized writing style (is that redundant?) made it difficult to decipher exactly what was going on in the scene. Also, the scene that ends the first part - with Rosemary discovering the dead man, it just didn't feel right to me.

For me the book fits neatly into other works that I've read recently. The French beaches and hotels remind me a great deal of Proust's "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" - though the writing and impressions are remarkably different. The Swiss sanitarium also reminds me of Mann's "The Magic Mountain." These 3 books were published within 10-15 years of each other, yet they are remarkably different. I've just tried to "rate" them, but there is no way to do that except my own enjoyment of them which is fairly superficial. "Tender is the Night" is by far the easiest to read and most conventional of the three, but any other rating would not be worthwhile.
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LibraryThing member selfcallednowhere
I've been on a 1920s kick since I moved into a building that was built in 1929 last year, so I decided it was time to read all of Fitzgerald's work. I'd read this one before but I didn't remember it at all.

It's hard to live up to Gatsby (which is one of my absolute favourite books of all time), but this book was also incredibly good, though it took awhile to get going (I wasn't all that captivated by the first third of it, but by the second third I couldn't put it down). It was rather difficult for me to read in spots because it stirred up some personal emotional stuff, but that was really just a sign of how powerfully written it was.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
How many people remember this from their English lit days? Tender is the Night is a study in the push-pull of relationships at their strongest and weakest. Dick Diver is a wealthy psychiatrist who falls for the mentally unstable Nicole Warren. A doctor marrying a patient begins as a dance between crazy and sane. Both are wealthy, society driven people with magnetic, charming personalities. The French Riviera serves as the backdrop and Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Murphy serve as the inspiration for the the first half of Tender is the Night. Zurich, Switzerland and Fitzgerald's relationship with his mentally ill wife, Zelda, help finish the rest of the story. Overall, it is a tragic display of how mental illness infects like a contagion, bringing down even the most solid of minds.… (more)
LibraryThing member mariamarthe
Not an easy read - there is a lot of pain in this book, no doubt based on Fitzgerald's own experiences with his wife Zelda, who suffered from schizophrenia. It is a beautiful, touching, truthful book. I couldn't put it down.
LibraryThing member sageness
I listened to the audiobook version, since my paper copy is buried behind double-stacked books.

GLBT tag for a queer male couple, queer psychiatric patients, and various levels of both homophobia and acceptance, per individual characters.

Gender Politics tag for an interesting take on women using financial and social power in particular ways, while men use their power in different ways entirely. Much of the story deals with female characters becoming independent.

Warnings for racism and bigotry typical of privileged white people in the 1920s.

I watched a lovely interview with Ray Bradbury where he declared that this is his favorite novel and he rereads it every year and always discovers something new in it, despite him being in his 80s now. It took me listening to the audiobook version to get past the opening chapter, but I'm glad I did. It really took me getting through the entire first section (where I was full of "Oh honey, no") to completely hook me, although that was mainly due to my own impatience with Rosemary's innocence.

Reaching the end, I just sort of want to hug them all.

However, I really hate the summary given for this novel, which implies that it's all Nicole's fault that Dick's life falls apart, as if she magically forced his complete and persistent ethical failures upon him. Fitzgerald's narration NEVER tries to lay the blame for Dick's choices on Nicole. His foibles are all on Dick, for better or worse, beginning to end. As they should be.
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LibraryThing member jneeb9
One of the most depressing books I have ever read.
LibraryThing member sarathena1
One of the greatest novels of all time, beautifully (though esoterically) written. A love story encompassing mental illness, alcoholism, infatuation, tragic flaws, power, and pride.
LibraryThing member bookworm12
When we first meet Dick and Nicole Diver, a glamorous married couple living a life of leisure in the south of France, we know nothing about who they truly are. We see them only through the eyes of Rosemary, a young actress who becomes completely infatuated with them. As she falls for Dick, we see the story begin to spiral towards disaster, but we aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen.

The second section of the book takes us back to the beginning of the story. We learn how Dick, a psychoanalyst, met Nicole because she was his patient. I think this is essential for the success of the story, because it’s important for the reader to understand that Dick knew what he was getting into when he married her. I didn’t become completely attached to the book until that second section. I need the back story in order to feel anything but distant interest in the characters. Once I was hooked I couldn’t looked away from the doomed love story.

I’ve read The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise, and most of Fitzgerald’s short stories, but this one has a level of rawness and beauty that really struck a chord with me. Some of the lines are just so lovely. For example, read the following and just try to tell me that isn’t the most eloquent way to say that someone liked to look in the mirror…

“He was enough older than Nicole to take pleasure in her youthful vanities and delights, the way she paused fractionally in front of the hall mirror on leaving the restaurant, so that the incorruptible quicksilver could give her back to herself.”

This novel was so fascinating because it’s so autobiographical. Fitzgerald talks about Dick drinks too much and Nicole “ruins” his genius and ambition. These are elements seem to come directly from his own life. That’s exactly how Hemingway described what Zelda did you F. Scott. It’s strange to think about writing a book that’s clearly a thinly veiled reference to your own dysfunctional life.

Apparently there are two versions of this book. The original was published in 1934, while Fitzgerald was alive. The revised version was created by a friend of Fitzgerald’s, Malcolm Cowley, using the author’s notes. It was published in 1951. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s strange to think of multiple versions of the same book being out there.

A few elements seem to spring from nowhere, but maybe I just missed something. There were a few references to Lanier and Topsy and at first I didn’t realize that they were their children. Also, their alcoholic friend Abe North’s story seemed to peter off until he only merited a mention later.

Regardless, it is full of more brilliance than anything else. The writing completely captured me and in the end, that makes the book well worth reading. I think this may be my favorite Fitzgerald novel because it helps explain the tragedy of his own life.

“There were other letters among whose helpless caesuras lurked darker rhythms.”

“I am a woman and my business is to hold things together.” – Nicole

“A schizophene is well named as a split personality ¬– Nicole was alternately a person to whom nothing need be explained and one to whom nothing could be explained. It was necessary to treat her with active affirmative insistence, keeping the road to reality always open, making the road to escape harder going.”
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LibraryThing member killianmcrae
One of the best works of American literature ever, "Tender is the Night" is often overlooked due to the popularity of Fitzgerald more well known work, "The Great Gatsby." In my opinion, great works of American literature are ones that simultaneously capture the time in which they are set, and perfectly arc these struggles and triumphs to wider, common themes. Somewhat reflective of his own life, Tender tells the story of a psychiatrist who pulls a reverse Florence Nightingale and falls for one his is patients before she's truly better. The resultant relationship is less than perfect, but he struggles with duty to his vows, and the longings of his heart when a new interest- scandalous in her own way- makes her way on his scene. As always, reading Fitzgerald is like watching an author make slow, passionate love to the dictionary. He' brilliant with words, but not hifalutin like many of his contemporaries. What he tells is a captivating bittersweet tale of confusions and conflict, set against a beautiful backdrop of pain, joy and strife.… (more)
LibraryThing member varwenea
If I had to read this back in high school, I would have had an F for sure. The urge to stop reading it was particularly strong – liked none of the characters, can’t decide the purpose of a few others, and can’t identify the correlation to the main story for several the plot lines, side stories. My 2 cents: Part 1 needs sizable editing. Part 2 was strong. Part 3 could use a slight trim.

Written in a non-chronological order, we piece together the story of Dick Diver, a psychologist, and his wife, Nicole Warren, an extremely wealthy heiress who due to a childhood trauma (a page that caused me to sit up straight) was a beautiful yet mentally unstable youth when she met Dr. Diver – her doctor who eventually became her husband. On the surface, the duo lived vivaciously amongst the rich and famous along the Riviera, while underneath, the burden of being both husband and doctor wears on Dick as well as on their marriage. Enter Rosemary, an 18 year old budding movie star, who found the charismatic Dick appealing, while her beauty and youth easily hooked Dick. A host of side characters and an abundance of alcohol (mostly for Dick) later, both Nicole and Rosemary are coming into their own, while Dick is aging out of relevance.

Like many of the older stories (published in 1934), I find many passages and phrases to be delightful and lyrical. The story itself though irritated me at times. I almost feel bad making negative comments on this book as the subject matter mirrored bits of FSF’s real life – his wife’s medical challenges and their mingling amongst the wealthy in the Riviera. I didn’t understand Dick’s flirting, his inability to commit, and his surrender. Also, both Nicole and Rosemary had “daddy issues”. It was too easy that Dick stepped in as the fatherly lover. And geez, Rosemary, the virgin, slept with Dick just because he was important to her but she knew she didn’t love him the same way anymore. And they have a 16 year age difference! Sigh, I’m going to stop now.

Some quotes:

On heartache:
“She looked up at him as he took a step toward the door; she looked at him without the slightest idea as to what was in his head, she saw him take another step in slow motion, turn and look at her again, and she wanted for a moment to hold him and devour him, wanted his mouth, his ears, his coat collar, wanted to surround him and engulf him; she saw his hand fall on the doorknob. Then she gave up and sank back on the bed. When the door closed she got up and went to the mirror, where she began brushing her hair, sniffling a little. One hundred and fifty strokes Rosemary gave it, as usual, then a hundred and fifty more. She brushed it until her arm ached, then she changed arms and went on brushing…”

On love – the discovery and acceptance:
“Again the names – then they lurched together as if the taxi had swung them. Her breasts crushed flat against him, her mouth was all new and warm, owned in common. They stopped thinking with an almost painful relief, stopped seeing; they only breathed and sought each other. They were both in the gray gentle world of a mild hangover of fatigue when the nerves relax in bunches like piano strings, and crackle suddenly like wicker chairs. Nerves so raw and tender must surely join other nerves, lips to lips, breast to breast…
They were still in the happier stages of love. They were full of brave illusions about each other, tremendous illusions, so that the communion of self with self seemed to be on a plane where no other human relations mattered. They both seemed to have arrived there with an extraordinary innocence as though a series of pur accidents had driven them together, so many accidents that at last they were forced to conclude that they were for each other…”

On love – first kiss:
“…As he held her and tasted her, and as she curved in further and further toward him, with her own lips, new to herself, drowned and engulfed in love, yet solaced and triumphant, he was thankful to have an existence at all, if only as a reflection in her wet eyes.”

On failure – reminds me of the battle vs. war comparison:
“…you mustn’t confuse a single failure with a final defeat.”

On hope:
“Nicole’s world had fallen to pieces, but it was only a flimsy and scarcely created world; beneath it her emotions and instincts fought on. Was it an hour ago she hdd waited by the entrance, wearing her hope like a corsage at her belt?”

On love – the linger feeling:
“He wheeled off his bicycle, feeling Nicole’s eyes following him, feeling her helpless first love, feeling it twist around inside him. He went three hundred yards up the slope to the other hotel, he engaged a room and found himself washing without a memory of the intervening ten minutes, only a sort of drunken flush pierced with voices, unimportant voices that did not know how much he was loved.”

On love – the memory of it:
“Walking in the garden when it was quite dark he thought about her with detachment, loving her for her best self. He remembered once when the grass was damp and she came to him on hurried feet, her thin slippers drenched with dew. She stood upon his shoes nestling close and held up her face, showing it as a book open at a page.
‘Think how you love me,’ she whispered. ‘I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am to-night.’”

On love – the reunion and age difference:
“He guessed that she had had lovers and had loved them in the last four years. Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged – the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve the relation. The past drifted back and he wanted to hold her eloquent giving-of-herself in its precious shell, till he enclosed it, till it no longer existed outside him. He tried to collect all that might attract her – it was less than it had been four years ago. Eighteen might look at thirty-four through a rising mist of adolescence; but twenty-two would see thirty-eight with discerning clarity.”
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LibraryThing member Monkeypats
Tender is the Night surpasses the more popular Great Gatsby. The book again is autobiographical in nature, with Nicole, the wife of the main character Dick, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's real-life wife Zelda. The external appearance of happiness created by the rich life lived on the French Riviera covers Nicole's psychological difficulties and Dick's attempts to live only on the surface due to his inability to continue coping with Nicole's problems. In spite of her psychiatric malfunctions, I found Nicole relatable and appealing and Dick's efforts equally interesting and likeable. This book has become one of my all-time favorites and I highly recommend it!… (more)
LibraryThing member jpsnow
I don't even try to comment on why Fitzgerald's writing is so great. There is so much essence about human interaction, so much vivid imagery, so many nuances captured in concise ideas. Tender is the Night was the book that introduced me to Fitzgerald's genius. Examples I found clever: the description of the psychiatrist listening and nodding as if he were Sherlock Holmes, anticipating "a valet, and only a valet," that any man only has one or two ideas really, and the comparison of France "where everyone thinks he's Napoleon" vs. Italy where "everyone think's he's Christ."… (more)
LibraryThing member Chris_V
Fitzgerald's beautifully written analysis of an American married couple whose life gives way under external and internal pressure while abroad. Drawn largely on his own crumbling marriage to the schizophrenic Zelda this is another of the Fitzgerald novels I could do with re-reading.

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