PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 25TH 2021
BY NO EXIT PRESS
AFFILIATED LINK https://www.blackwells.co.uk/?a_aid=babbageandsweetcorn Hardback £10.99
Book Trailer from No Exit Press https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEAyZoNl0xA
It’s my stop on the blog tour today and I’m delighted to share with you all my review. Many thanks to the publishers No Exit Press for my invite onto the tour.
The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favourite novels, having read it first when I was in my teens and falling in love with books set in this era. In this new novel by Michael Farris Smith he takes Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby, and imagines his life before he meets Jay Gatsby.
Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I. An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.
This is a very different story from that of The Great Gatsby as we are introduced to Nick pre West Egg. We learn very little of Nick Carraway in the Fitzgerald novel, considering he is so central to the story, but here, in a raw and emotion fuelled account, we read of Nick and his time in and after the Great War with glimpses into his early years.
Rich in detail and highly emotive the story tells us of Nick’s account in the trenches of WW1 and really shows us the horrific and brutal experiences of the soldiers and the effects long term it has. Nick’s experiences and trauma are vividly written and the scenes taking place in the trenches are hauntingly described. This experience naturally effects him and we go on to read of his journey on to New Orleans where he almost stumbles into the violent lives of those that he meets.
His detachment and bewilderment with the world, after his experiences, is wonderfully portrayed not only in the dangerous chances he takes both in the trenches and later on, but also in the chapters which follow him, on leave in Paris, where he meets a women that he becomes romantically involved with. As he tries to hold on to himself, I felt some of the same hazy, dreamlike narration that can be found in The Great Gatsby, and that same mix of innocence and ‘what the hell you only live once’ attitude I got from him on my first encounter. I listened to the author talk about the book last night, and it was mentioned how little he talks in The Great Gatsby, instead telling us all that happens. Watching Gatsby and his friends all the time. I felt this also in Nick, watching his mother, watching and waiting during the war, and to those around him in New Orleans. Always in amongst great activity, but never really taking part.
A dark, moving and gripping story of a lonely and some what lost man, but one also not wanting to go home.