Loosely based on author F. Scott Fitzgerald's marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night follows the courtship and marriage of the ambiti...moreLoosely based on author F. Scott Fitzgerald's marriage to Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, Tender Is the Night follows the courtship and marriage of the ambitious psychiatrist Dick Diver and the schizophrenic heiress Nicole Warren, who is also his patient. As you might guess, the relationship is far from healthy, and most of the book is spent chronicling its souring.
Because of its chronological structure, this book is a little hard to decipher. Part I is set on the Riviera, with Dick and Nicole vacationing with a group of friends. Part II starts out a decade before that, but spans many years, ultimately getting ahead of Part I. It's also never made clear when time is passing. You really have to sit and think about when the part you're reading is taking place, and try to piece together a timeline yourself.
According to Wikipedia, Fitzgerald got so many complaints about the confusing structure of this novel that later editions were arranged in chronological order. It's the 1951 edition, published posthumously by a friend of Fitzgerald's, that is arranged that way; the original, convoluted version was published in 1934. (less)
This is the story of one day in the title character's life, on which she is throwing a party. It's written in a stream-of-consciousness style, telling...moreThis is the story of one day in the title character's life, on which she is throwing a party. It's written in a stream-of-consciousness style, telling us everything she's thinking as she goes about her business, giving us glimpses into the compromises she's made in her life, and her ambivalence toward giving up all the other lives she might have had.
The story also gives us glimpses into the thoughts of Septimus Smith, a shell-shocked soldier returned from World War I; Septimus's Italian wife, Lucrezia; Peter Walsh, a former lover of Mrs. Dalloway's and a colonial governor in India; Sir William Bradshaw, the doctor treating Septimus's shell shock; and an assortment of well-to-do Londoners attending Mrs. Dalloway's party. Throughout the day, these characters all come into contact with one another, and it is at these meetings that Woolf tends to shift perspective from one character to the next.
The prose is very lyrical, and changes dramatically in style and tone depending on which character's thoughts Woolf is narrating. Mrs. Dalloway's sections are uptempo, cheerful and busy, while Peter Walsh's are primarily nostalgic and wistful and Septimus Smith's are disjointed collages of images, impressions and garbled revelations. (less)