I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for Nick by Michael Farris Smith, the stunning prequel to timeless classic The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Thank you to Hollie McDevitt from No Exit Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this fascinating new novel.
About the book:
Critically acclaimed novelist Michael Farris Smith pulls Nick Carraway out of the shadows and into the spotlight in this exhilarating imagination of his life before The Great Gatsby
Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby’s world, he was at the centre of a very different story – one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I.
Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first-hand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavour of debauchery and violence.
An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know only from the periphery. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to transfix even the heartiest of golden age scribes, NICK reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades.
About the author:
Michael Farris Smith is the author of NICK, Blackwood, The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. He has been awarded the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction, Transatlantic Review Award, and Brick Streets Press Story Award.
His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, and more.
He lives with his wife and daughters in Oxford, Mississippi.
It’s been many years since I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald but I do remember it had a profound impact on me at the time. So it was with some trepidation that I began reading Nick, a prequel to Gatsby that brings narrator Nick Carraway to the forefront of the story, giving him a background and depth of character that takes him from the impact of his mother’s depression growing up in a small town in the Mid West of America to the horror and bloodshed of the trenches in France during World War 1. But I needn’t have worried as Michael Farris Smith does the character justice, bringing him vividly to life as he tells the story of Nick’s life leading up to his first meeting with Jay Gatsby at the beginning of the famous novel.
The story begins as Nick is saying goodbye to Ella, a French woman he has been having a passionate affair with, as he leaves Paris to go back to the trenches of World War 1. This is the start of a journey that will see him lose and then search for his wartime first love, experience the horror and trauma of the battlefield, coming back to take in the heady excitement of New Orleans as this rich and imaginative story of self discovery takes us forward to the very beginning of The Great Gatsby where Nick Carraway sees Jay Gatsby for the very first time, his experiences in this novel shaping everything that is to come in his sympathetic relationship with Gatsby.
It is obvious that Michael Farris Smith has a great deal of affection for the source material and this comes through with every word. He does the character of Nick Carraway justice as he turns what was a periphery role in the novel into a full rounded and believable character that you can’t help but care about. His writing is divine and reads very much as you would expect it to, leading very nicely into the beginning of The Great Gatsby so the most natural thing in the world is for you to want to pick up the original novel and continue reading, feeling a better understanding of the character than you ever did before.
Nick was a very pleasant surprise, beautifully written and with an authenticity to it that makes it utterly believable as a prequel to the original story. A fascinating novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend.
Nick by Michael Farris Smith is available to purchase now: Amazon UK
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