Tender is the Night: Book Three

Rating: 2 out of 5

Ugh, finally done with Tender is the Night. It's sad because I love F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby so much, and although I haven't read his other novels, I feel disillusioned. I've talked to people who have read This Side of Paradise or The Beautiful and the Damned, and everyone seems to agree that Gatsby is simply the best. So let's just wrap up this dud, shall we?

Dick Diver's reputation has been completely destroyed in Book Three, due to his alcoholism [See my reviews of Book One and Two]. He is called as a psychologist to cure a young man's homosexuality (yes, the 1930s were not well known for tolerance, unfortunately), but he declares the case a lost cause.

He later finds out that his wife Nicole's father--the one who raped her as a child--is now dying. He tries to prevent Nicole from seeing him for her own sanity, but by the time they arrive, the man has run away. The reader never finds out what happened to him, but sadly if you've gotten this far into the novel, you just want it to end--closure or no closure.

Dick gets kicked out of the clinic after a father of an recovering alcoholic patient complains that his son can smell the liquor off Dick. Dick continues to be an obnoxious drunk, and when Rosemary pays a visit again, it's the final straw for Nicole. She writes to Tommy Barban, who has been obviously in love with her for years, and they begin their affair.

Tommy eventually tells Dick that Nicole loves him now, and they all agree to end the marriage. Nicole takes the children and marries Tommy, and Dick returns to America to practice medicine. The novel ends with Nicole hearing through the grapevine that Dick jumps from town to town, girl to girl, never seeming to escape his problems and find happiness.

This is a story of great irony, given that Nicole becomes healthy at Dick's expense. The fact that the tale ends with Nicole's point of view further proves how Dick has devolved from a charismatic, successful doctor into a troubled, miserable man who disappears as a mere rumor. Nicole, once the psychotic patient, has become the center of the story.

Like I've said before, Fitzgerald is known for writing what he knows, since he suffered from alcoholism and own wife Zelda had to be sent to mental institutions. Reading this novel just makes me pity the author, not admire him. Nothing can beat  the power of The Great Gatsby, so I do not recommend this lesser work.

Favorite Quote of Book Three: "Either you think--or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you."