Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week a different topic comes up and bloggers list their top ten books in that category. I love a good list...I've always said that. That's practically my catchphrase.
Top Ten Books For People Who Like 'The Great Gatsby'!
I know that my list is going to seem strange to some people. The books I have listed are, in many ways, not particularly similar to 'The Great Gatsby, and most of them explore very different themes. However, what I personally adored about 'The Great Gatsby' was the time period, the glorious Roaring 20's, and the extravagance of Gatsby. The socialising, the parties and the smeared lipstick of the creme de la creme. The despair of the rich as their facade is ripped away and their parties descend into vacuous chaos.
The books in my list all, in some way, portray the essence of Gatsby; rubbing shoulders with the upper crust that starts off classy and cocktails but ends up revealing the dark underbelly of high society.
Title: The Uninvited Guests
Author: Sadie Jones
Why I Chose it: I ADORE this book. It is fabulous. It is very 'An Inspector Calls' with its large dose of morality and mysterious guests who reveal the characters' secrets. What I love most about it, though, is the big mansion, the brandies after dinner and the man-servants. This is posh party gone wrong perfectly pitched.
Title: Goodbye to Berlin
Author: Christopher Isherwood
Why I Chose it: This is a collection of short, connected stories set in Weimar Germany. 'Sally Bowles' was the story that inspired the musical 'Cabaret'. Sally Bowles is the perfect character for me; gorgeous barefoot pauper who wears second-hand fur coats and dreams of falling in love with a rich man as she drinks Prairie Oysters in her freezing cold back- street flat. (FYI: A Prairie Oyster is a drink consisting of a raw egg, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and ground black pepper that apparently cures a hangover. Yeah.)
Title: Women in Love
Author: D.H Lawrence
Why I Chose it: This book was published in 1920, so it is a must-read if, like me, you enjoy reading books set in the 20's. This one is all about destructive relationships and sex and greed and vice which I think goes hand in hand with everything Gatsby stands for.
Author: Ian McEwan
Why I Chose it: Again, this book is all about the trials and tribulations of the upper crust. Although for most of the novel the characters have fallen from their social status and have less money, I love the tone and the way they ride bicycles around Cambridge and think dirty words whilst saying 'old chap' and 'Oh I am terribly sorry'.
Title: I Served the King of England
Author: Bohumil Hrabal
Why I Chose it: This novel is written by a Czechoslovakian writer and is a fantastic 'rags to riches and back down again' story set in Prague in the 1940's. The main character longs for wealth and status and wants to live the American Dream...brilliant book.
Title: Mrs Dalloway
Author: Virginia Woolf
Why I Chose it: This is one of my favourite books and is all about a fabulous party that Clarissa Dalloway is having that same evening. However, as her facade crumbles and people arrive from her past her party it is unsure whether she can hold it together. Just brilliant if, like me, you love books about the rich in the 1920's! (Published 1925)
Title: Lady Windermere's Fan
Author: Oscar Wilde
Why I Chose it: How can I make a list of books about upper class soiree's without including an Oscar Wilde play?! This is the one which the quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" comes from. Whenever I read that quote I think of Gatsby so I had to include it!3.
Title: Death on the Nile
Author: Agatha Christie
Why I Chose it: This is my favourite Christie book in no small part due to the snobbery and wealth of its main characters. They are said to be 'dripping in diamonds' which, of course, means motive for murder.
Title: The Custom of the Country
Author: Edith Wharton
Why Read it: The main character of this book, Undine, is utterly repulsive but also utterly ambitious and WILL have her American Dream. Never rich enough, never a high enough status, never satisfied. This book is shocking and fabulous all at the same time, and Undine is the absolute epitome of vulgarity.
Title: Wise Children
Author: Angela Carter
Why Read it: This book tops my Top Ten's far too often but it is just so damn GOOD! Nothing gets better than the glorious illegitimate twins of hugely wealthy Melchior Hazard, a great actor. The twins are ageing showgirls, 'Our fingernails match our toenails, match our lipstick match our rouge...The habit of applying warpaint outlasts the battle.' For me, they are just the epitome of the shabby chic, feathers and tiaras, smeared lipstick and dirty knickers underbelly of novels exploring the lives and loves of the upper classes. Dora and Nora are the secret the rich want to keep hidden, but their flamboyance and exuberance means they can never be kept down. Glorious, glorious characters.
That concludes my Top Ten books- I hope I didn't offend anybody by comparing Gatsby to quite a few English novelists :-P.