Now I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that I hate when life gets in the way of my pleasure reading. But hopefully now that I’ll be turning in my comprehensive paper tomorrow, I’ll have time this week to finish Tender is the Night. I’ve got a bunch of books on my to-read list, and I’m itching to get started!
I reviewed Book One of Fitzgerald’s novel a couple weeks ago, and Book Two begins with a flashback into Dick Diver’s life. He returned to Zurich as a psychologist after the war, when Nicole Warren–his mentally unstable future wife–checks into his clinic. We found out that Nicole’s fear of men stems from being raped by her own father when her mother died. Nicole was attracted to Dick immediately, and after a passionate kiss, Dick becomes more than her doctor.
The story speeds through their marriage, the births of their two children, and Nicole’s subsequent depression, until the past catches up with the present. Dick feels suffocated by Nicole’s wealth, which pressures him to buy a clinic with another doctor.
Unfortunately, Nicole’s mental health continues to deteriorate, to the point where she grabs the steering wheel of Dick’s car and runs them off the road while laughing hysterically. Dick takes a leave of absence and escapes to Berlin, where he learns that Abe North has been beaten to death in New York. To make matters worse, he receives a telegram sending him word of his father’s death.
After going to America to lay his dad to rest, he bumps into Rosemary in Rome. Four years have passed since they first met, and they finally consummate their affair. However, Dick grows jealous of her past lovers, and gets into a fight with a taxi driver. He’s sent to jail and has to be bailed out by Nicole’s sister Baby Warren.
Book Two tracks Dick’s demise quite well, as the reader can see how his financial and sexual insecurities cause him to lash out at others. He continuously gets forced into situations he doesn’t want, which demonstrates that even though Nicole is mental, he’s actually the weaker one. Nicole had to suffer incest, but what’s his excuse?
Unfortunately, this novel is not keeping my attention. It’s hard to sympathize with Dick, because he cheats on a wife he married for money. Then after learning that Rosemary’s sleeping with an Italian, he goes on a racist rage (complete with slurs). His arrest just shows how delicate his ego is, but what did he expect? Rosemary’s a beautiful actress in her prime, and by no means was she required to wait around for him.
Like I’ve said before, this is no The Great Gatsby. It just lacks that voice of a generation, the tragic tale with unforgettable characters. I’ve come this far, so I have to finish the book, but I have a feeling that it will get a pretty low rating.
Favorite Quote of Book Two: “In any case you mustn’t confuse a single failure with a final defeat.”