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ARC Review: Writing Gatsby

Genre: Nonfiction Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

After reading William Elliott Hazelgrove’s books about the Titanic and Cassie Chadwick, I was so excited to see he was publishing a book about F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby! The book was certainly enjoyable, but didn’t necessarily live up to the other two I’ve read by Hazelgrove.

I absolutely love the idea behind the book, to tell the story of how The Great Gatsby became one of the greatest American novels ever written. One of my favorite parts was reading about the publication process, and finding out that the novel gained popularity during WWII through Armed Service Editions. The fact that this novel that everyone knows and loves might have been unheard of if it weren’t for this book giveaway during WWII is astounding!

Furthermore, I thought Hazelgrove captured Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald exceptionally well in his writing. While I knew a little bit about the couple before reading this book, I didn’t know a lot, and Hazelgrove really made them come alive. Similarly, I appreciated that their depictions were not sugarcoated. While that made me like them (especially Scott) less than I did before, it was important that the book stayed true to their personalities.

That being said, I think the book was a bit unclear in some aspects. For one, it is not written in chronological order, which normally doesn’t bother me, but it was a little difficult to follow. Likewise, I enjoyed the fact that some of Scott’s and Zelda’s quotes from their books were included, but it was not apparent at the beginning of the book that these quotes reflected their relationship and real-life experiences. It would have been better if Hazelgrove had shared at the beginning of the book that Scott and Zelda later stated that some of their fictional works applied to their lives.

Finally, after reading the entirety of this book, I’m not sure that the title is completely accurate. While it is about the process of writing and publishing The Great Gatsby, it seemed like that took a backseat to Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s tumultuous relationship. Although this was still an interesting topic, it was not altogether expected based on the title.

As a whole, Writing Gatsby by William Elliott Hazelgrove was pretty good! His books about the Titanic and Cassie Chadwick are in another category in my opinion, but this was definitely worth the read!

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