Book of a lifetime: The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

From The Independent archive: Juliet Nicolson ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald

Friday 21 January 2022 21:30 GMT
Boats against the current: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in ‘The Great Gatsby’
Boats against the current: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in ‘The Great Gatsby’ (Warner Bros)

I was 17 years old, faintly spotty and in love with Rupert Brooke. I had just been removed from my Home Counties boarding school, slap in the middle of the A-level course. My parents had become disillusioned with the academic goals of the institution after discovering that the entire school had been awarded a day’s picnic to celebrate one girl’s successful application to university.

Instead, I was sent to a serious-minded London crammer. My English lit tutor lived at the end of the Northern Line and twice a week I made the hour-long Tube journey to see her, using the anonymity of the carriage to refine my awkward attempts at presenting myself as an experienced smoker. Recognising basic gaps in my education, Nancy Ellworth had asked me to read the entire Shakespeare canon, a job to be completed by the first half of the term. But during our tutorials we had begun The Great Gatsby and suddenly the innocently quiet boarding-school volume of my life was amplified into one of adult daring, glamour, and above all sex.

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