I just finished this book yesterday evening. I've been struggling to figure out how to review this book without giving away too much of the story. After all, the whole idea of this book is to twist and turn so much that nearly every page is interwoven into the main theme. Please forgive me if some of this sounds vague, I just don't want to spill the beans for those who want to read the story.
"Tender is the Night" starts off clearly enough. A youngish girl (17) and her mother are on vacation, touring Europe, and stop on the coast for a few days. It's there that she meets a group of rather...interesting folks, all older than she is, who take her in as a friend. From there, certain things escalate. There is a hint of something scandalous, though we don't know what it is until about halfway through the book. Of course, there are other titillating details, things that are said, things that happen, but you aren't quite sure how they might play into each other. But they do. Again, this is something that takes most of the book to see, though you do know that the entanglement is there, you just aren't sure how the bows are tied.
The book does change perspective, three times in fact, but it doesn't feel like a jarring change. It's more gradual, so it doesn't seem odd to be moving from one point of view to another. Actually, I found it interesting to go from one place to another, and see the world and what's happening through certain people's eyes.
I will admit I had a bit of a problem at one point with the time line. It took me a moment to readjust myself, and I did have to keep reminding myself of the time shift. However, I didn't find it too off putting.
The writing was excellent. It was easy enough to become absorbed in the story, and I did find myself wondering about the twist that I knew was coming up. It was the waiting for it, the wondering about it, that made the first half of the story so intriguing.
The second half covered the whole twist, not leaving anything to question. It was nicely done, though a little uncomfortable. I think that had to do more with the attitudes of the day rather than the actual issue.
The last few chapters of the book wrapped nearly everything up in a nice package. However, once I put the book down, I couldn't decide if I was satisfied with the ending or not. I have a huge soft spot for gooey endings, though I do realize that all stories shouldn't end that way. Indeed, some can't end that way. And though this one didn't end as terribly as "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold", I still didn't feel...fulfilled. But then it could be that was what Fitzgerald was going for. Once you read the book, you'll know what I mean.
Would I recommend this story? Yes. It was superbly written, nicely turned, and interesting in each part of the story. If you're looking for a good Fitzgerald book, and you've read "The Great Gatsby" (which is on my list, too), then this is one I'd definitely tell you to pick up.