Review: Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

There is always more than one side to a story. In Beautiful Little Fools, author Jillian Cantor takes F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby and re-imagines and retells the story from the perspective of three different women who are all linked to Jay Gatsby in some way. First is Daisy Buchanan nee Fay, the object of Gatsby's obsession, her cousin golfer Jordan Baker and finally we have Catherine McCoy, a new character, a suffragette who is the sister of the ill-fated Myrtle Wilson.

Cantor takes the stories of Daisy, Jordan and Catherine and weaves them into a feminist tale of how their lives are shaped by the men around them, whether they be past lovers, cheating men or abusive husbands, and what they finally do about it--and get away with much to the ire of the investigating police officer.

I've read, and studied, The Great Gatsby on more than one occasion and it's a story that has both intrigued and frustrated me in equal parts. At first, I was surprised by just how different this one was to the classic novel that it is based on. Although she uses many of the same characters, Cantor does not try to emulate Fitzgerald's writing style. Also, unlike Fitzgerald who, due to publishing and moral standards of the day, had to hide certain core themes through hints and innuendo, Cantor has greater freedom to discuss and address various topics that are pivotal to the characters--such as same sex attraction, and domestic violence. 

I appreciated this one for it's brave and radically different take on a classic novel, one that will no doubt appeal to contemporary readers. This isn't a flat out Gatsby retelling, and it works much better for it. I enjoyed reading this one over the course of a couple of warm summer evenings on my back patio, with a cool drink by my side.

Recommended. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of Beautiful Little Fools.

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