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F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender Is the Night

Dick Diver is a clinical psychologist. A former, Rhodes scholar, he has studied in Vienna. While there, he met a young woman, Nicole Warren, a Chicago heiress, who was being checked in, having suffered sexual abuse from her father and now is afraid of men. They fall in love and Dick helps her, both as doctor and husband, to get over her fear. Their marriage is initially happy. However, when he meets Rosemary Hoyt, another young woman, things go wrong as Dick and Rosemary fall in love. Nicole has another breakdown. Dick tries to patch things up with her but it is too late. On returning to Europe after going to his father’s funeral in the US, he consummates his affair with Rosemary. Dick turns to drink and his life starts to fall apart. Nicole has an affair and then divorces Dick to marry her lover. Dick drifts back to the US, his fate left vague but almost certainly not positive.

The book did not have as much success as Fitzgerald had hoped and anticipated. It was now after the Great Crash and the Jazz Age was over. The reading public had moved on, even if Fitzgerald had not. Nevertheless, the book still stands up as a fine, if not great, piece of writing. It shows how a relationship can fall apart and it also portrays the Ugly American – rich, drunk, spoilt – who was still to be found in the playgrounds of Europe. And, of course, it also mirrors the dissolution of Fitzgerald’s own marriage.

Publishing history

First published 1934 by Scribner’s