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I am admittedly not a huge fan of Fitzgerald’s work, although I can and do appreciate his sharp wit that informs observations and commentary about behavior and motivations. What stands out most sharply is the fact that human behavior and desires have not changed: the characters in this story are self-absorbed, obsessed with fitting in, vary in their social skills and awareness, and are far too prone to influence from those on the “higher rungs” of the social ladder.
There are several moments to enjoy in this story: proclamations about the psychology of attracting men and developing charm that fly from Marjorie’s lips are clever and the connection between letters Fitzgerald sent with advice to his sister are abundantly clear. I cannot help but think that his advice did contain some of the lesson that is visited on both cousins at the end, and presenting a story with such a clever conclusion, slightly devious and wholly appropriate for the character of Bernice was satisfying.
The narration provided by Lee Ann Howlett presented the story and the characters in a cleanly presented form: small tonal distinctions delineated the characters from one another and the narrative in a well-modulated presentation. Finely nuanced inflections provide verbal clues to the attitudes and personalities of the characters, from hesitancy to offhanded bravado, each was a perfectly voiced addition to the written text.
This is one of the stories that become the definition of a classic short: the setting is nearly a century prior, but the characters and people are real and easy to relate to with a modern eye. This should be your introduction to Fitzgerald’s writing, short, sweet and beautiful prose in his style, but not so long as to feel overwhelming.
I received an audiobook copy of the story from the publisher via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review at the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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