I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard about the concept: The Great Gatsby is reimagined and told from the points of view of Daisy Buchanan and two other women from the classic novel. But I was blown away by this amazing historical fiction/mystery and can’t stop thinking about the clever premise and how well author Jillian Cantor told the stories of these women. She incorporates the action and characters from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s well-known story, but in this version the women are cast sympathetically, with much more description of their lives. They are portrayed as likeable, independent, intelligent, and strong, within the constraints of the 1920’s. Additionally, Cantor successfully captures the style and tone of the 1925 novel with vivid cultural details: the cars, the clothes, the drinks, the jewelry, and the lifestyles.
Just a short summary of the plot from the book jacket: “On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby. Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.
“Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unraveling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.”
Cantor says this can be read as a companion to The Great Gatsby, or on its own as I’m sure most people will read it. I had read Gatsby years ago in an English Lit university course, so I reread it last November, knowing I would read Fools in January. With the original fresh in my mind I was amazed at how this novel fit so well with Gatsby, almost like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces making the story complete. Most of the women in my book group hadn’t read Gatsby recently, and they felt the novel was totally readable as a standalone.
I highly recommend this fascinating novel, which Cantor describes as “an exploration of the interior lives of women, their struggles, their triumphs, and most of all, their secrets.”