“Your world is a place unto its own… it is a place of its own truth and its own consequences and it is invisible to all.”
Nick by Michael Farris Smith is a masterpiece in its own right. I love The Great Gatsby; it’s my favourite classics and one of my favourite books. I am always wary of retelling of classics in case they do not portray the character right or get the true essence of the story. However, I have always wondered what Nick Carraway did before arriving in West Egg as it is not said much in the books which is what led me to this one. This book made me love Nick’s unreliable character even more and this story made me love the Great Gatsby more if that was at all possible. It moved me and kept me wanting more the entire way through this novel.
This follows Nick throughout his life starting within the war and his fight in the trenches whilst also showing the horror of war and PTSD. Whilst on a short leave he travels to Paris and meets Ella, an interesting French woman who shows Nick how to love. Whilst flashing back and forward between his time in the trenches and his time with Ella it shows how Nick copes being alone. It goes into his loneliness at home as a child, caring for his mother during her dark periods and his time with Ella. He spends time traveling the world in order to not return to his overbearing family ending up in New Orleans. Here he meets two ex-married people who are having trouble with their own lives after the war.
“And he raised his arms and reached out for the dawn as if to warm his hands on the rising sun”.
Smith brought me straight back to The Great Gatsby with his use of vivid descriptions of the war as well as the places Nick travelled too during his time. His unreliable narration and long, expressive sentences are similar to that of Fitzgerald himself. Through vivid, haunting nightmares of Ella and the bloody, torturous war it felt like I was living this life alongside Nick; feeling his pain and longing. It perfectly displayed how characters do have lives before we join them on their story and how it shapes them into the characters we see.
This book details the love, loss, friendship and heartbreak that outlines a person’s life. I could not put it down and I am looking forward to reading more by Michael Farris Smith in the future.
Thank you to Little Brown and Company and Net Galley for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!