The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
Published by Tordotcom on June 1, 2021
Reading Challenges: Debut Author 2021, GoodReads
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
About The Chosen and the Beautiful
After writing critically acclaimed fantasy novellas, The Chosen and the Beautiful is Nghi Vo’s debut novel. This retelling of The Great Gatsby dazzles with its luxuriously louche writing. Vo gives a 1920s with magical elixirs and infernal bargains.
Told from Jordan Baker’s POV, we get The Other/Outsider as a narrator. Part of yet not of the privileged, white, world of wealth where having your lineage known can open, or close, Society’s doors. Jordan is Vietnamese, adopted by a wealthy missionary, and brought back to the US. Not only othered by her appearance, Jordan’s bisexual and a paper magician.
We get the extraordinarily outrageous parties, the speakeasies, drowning in cocktails and sex of the original story. But now it’s gilt with demonic deals and magic.
My thoughts about The Chosen and the Beautiful
Knowing the source material, The Great Gatsby, isn’t necessary. I know required reading – why most of us read it – seldom leaves fond memories. But don’t let that stop you from walking into this book with an open mind.
Nghi Vo’s writing is so luscious and decadent – heady and effervescent like champagne. And yet she doesn’t just dazzle and seduce. She makes you look at difficult subjects but does it so skillfully. Class inequality, misogyny, racism, and the wrongs committed because of the protection of wealth and being white.
Even knowing the story didn’t stop me from hoping for a different ending. My feels went from seduction to heartbreak by the end. This is glorious writing and storytelling. I can’t wait to see what Nghi Vo writes next!
Thank you NetGalley and Tor.com for the ARC!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Debut Author 2021
- NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge 2021