I was very much looking forward to reading this homage to The Great Gatsby, set in the world of London based Russian oligarchs and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing is stylish and intelligent, although I was interested to see that the Belgrade born author is writing in her third language. The Gorsky/Gatsby figure is sufficiently enigmatic and Nicolas/Nick is at once naïve and world weary.
There are some beautiful descriptions of the pleasures life among the uber-rich – party guests falling into baths of caviar and Greek islands where every wish is anticipated – but also the terrible emptiness which opens up when everything which can be bought has been bought and yet real happiness remains out of reach.
I admit I spent a lot of my time spotting the differences and similarities with the original Gatsby and in some ways I wish I could have read this as a stand-alone novel, without the baggage of the original classic. The author is clearly steeped in the Russian classics and I finished reading with a long reading list to improve my own, scanty, knowledge. I was fascinated too by the portrayal of a London populated almost entirely by emigres, at both ends of the social scale, and which appeared both familiar and strangely exotic.
I enjoyed the whole book but the plot did sometimes feel a little superficial and the ending a little rushed. Perhaps a second reading would reveal greater depth, without Fitzgerald’s shadow falling across it. This book would be great for reading groups – especially if they read The Great Gatsby alongside.
Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy
978-1784700706|Vintage|pbk 3 Sept, 2015
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