In typical Fitzgerald fashion, Tender is the Night, is a novel of both excess and haunting tragedy. It tells the story of a much loved couple, the Divers, living a life of leisure in the French Riviera. Dick is a well-respected psychologist and his wife Nicole, the wealthy daughter of an important Chicago family. The spend their days lounging on the beach, surrouned by a cotierre of friends, and it is there that they first meet a young American actress, Rosemary. She instantly falls in love with them both, a spends a magnificent summer with the two of them. Yet by the time all are ready to leave their summer playground, it has become apparent that not all is as it seems with this perfect couple.
I found myself quite conflicted about this novel. It is broken down into three parts. The first book tells the story of the summer Rosemary met and spent with the Divers, while the second flashes back to the past when Dick and Nicole first met, the early years of their marriage, and finally five years into the future. The final book brings its all together, connecting all the pieces.
I really struggled with the first portion of this book. It seemed nothing more than a tedious description of one silly party, shopping trip, or trite private exchange after another. I was unsure if I could even continue, but this is Fitzgerald, and I know from my past experiences reading his novels, there is always more than you first realize. So I put the book down and did a little research into the background of the book, hoping it would compell me to continue. What I learned was that is considered by some to be a semi-autobiographical account of his marriage and that was enough to give me a sense that there really would be more if I just kept going. I found the second two sections, in utter contrast to the first, completely compelling, renewing my faith in Fitzgerald. If like me, you find yourself reading this book and saying what is the whole point, I strongly urge you to continue. That first book is definitely tiresome, but it the linchpin upon which the whole denouement rests. Without it, this novel wouldn't be half the beautifully romantic tragedy that it is.