I become so engrossed in whichever book I'm reading that it begins to seep into my life. Maybe I should read a book where the main character never procrastinates, isn't lazy, drinks only herbal tea and exercises five times a week. I would never bond with that character though.
At the moment I'm reading Tender Is The Night. Between that and my usual bedtime reading of D.V. my imagination keeps running away to the 1920s. The main characters, Dick and Nicole Diver are based on Gerald and Sara Murphy, friends of Fitzgerald (and Picasso, Hemingway, Dorothy Parker etc etc). Weirdly, I had tried and failed to read Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill, the biography of the Murphys which has the largest number of glowing reviews on Amazon I've ever seen. I couldn't get into it and gave it away, but I now realise that was because I hadn't read Tender Is The Night.
In the novel they are painted as fairly frivolous types - although I'm only half way through I feel the portrayal of them contains more than a touch of envy. The Murphys helped the artists they were friends with and apparently invented the French Riviera as a fashionable place to go - convincing the Hotel du Cap to stay open during the summer months. You might think that they were just rich jetsetters, there for the party and the talent that rubbed off from their famous artist friends. But there is so much more to their story - which is where Living Well Is The Best Revenge comes in. Yet another book, written by Calvin Tomkins, it shows the Murphys as crucial to the American expat scene of the 1920s - 30s in both the south of France and Paris. Far from being leeches, they were the core of it. Their way of life seems to have been their art. It also shows that those with apparently perfect, charmed lives are not immune to tragedy. I have a suspicion that anyone brought up in the US who has any interest in art or literature would know all about the Murphys already; but I can't wait to finish Tender Is The Night and start reading this book.
I don't know about revenge, but living well (and that particular era) interests me very much. I feel the thread of it from my grandparents and from older friends of my parents: a G & T before going out, holding doors open, dressing for dinner, that kind of thing. Coincidentally my friend/neighbour and I have been talking about instigating a regular cocktail hour around here (note to self: buy Noilly Prat - also known as Oily Prat). Also, the wearing of lipstick/heels for no particular reason is on the agenda. I'm sure everyone will think we're a bit mad - and I'm not saying that a bit of lipstick and a few martinis makes us experts on the art of living well. But it's funny that the book uses that word revenge. Is revenge a response to envy? My response to envy at living well is closer to disappointment and mostly incomprehension. I suppose it goes back to things I've posted about before - like this. All you can really do is let others live their lives as they do (The Murphys were known to live wonderfully on less money than the Fitzgeralds who lived badly on a fortune) and get on with living/creating yours.