Your Preview Verdict: Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

Your Preview Verdict: Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

A powerful reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the perspective of the three women whose lives are unravelled by one man’s romantic obsession.

On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby. Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.

Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby – before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well. Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.

Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unravelling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

This inspired reimagining of the glittering Jazz Age world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless classic is a quintessential tale of money and power, marriage and friendship, love and desire – and ultimately the murder of a man tormented by the past and driven by a destructive longing that can never be fulfilled.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

A Gatsby inspired whodunnit! Welcome to the all star cast murder mystery with charming and charismatic gentlemen, who mingle with strongly independent beautiful women! Jay Gatsby, the dreamboat solider who won the heart of one lucky lady found dead in his millionaire swimming pool. Detective Frank Charles has the lead on the case and believes on of the 3 leading ladies pulled the trigger! Three amazing ladies who stand out from the crowd and have huge dreams that they want to fulfil until life gets them when they least expect it and they are brought together through bloodshed. A gripping novel that will have you turning pages and saying “yes” to any requests your children have just so you can get back to this book! Highly recommend giving it a read if you love Gatsby period drama and a hankering for a good murder mystery. Jodi, QLD, 5 Stars

A really engaging and interesting read. The author’s use of similes and attention to describing details made this an enjoyable read for me as I found it easy to follow along and create mental pictures in my head to follow the storyline. A suitable read for those who enjoy romance in the plot. Overall this book was very well written and I very much enjoyed it! Emma, VIC, 5 Stars

What a great spin on the women of The Great Gatsby. I loved this book. It was great to get more insight into the female characters with Jillian Cantor’s contribution. I highly recommend this book. I loved The Great Gatsby and I think I absorbed Beautiful Little Fools just as much, if not more. Amanda, TAS, 5 Stars

I haven’t read The Great Gatsby nor have I watched the movie but once I got my head around the female characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel I thought this book was truly terrific. Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor is the tale of The Great Gatsby told through the view point of the female characters, Daisy, Jordan, & Catherine (Myrtle’s sister). Detective Frank Charles also plays a big part as he is not satisfied with the police outcome of murder/suicide and with a $15,000 reward being offered to him he sets out to find the truth. Through the narrative we find out how each of the girl’s lives are changed by meeting Jay Gatsby. The story was captivating and while this is not a story I’d usually be drawn to I was hooked right from the start. Cantor draws you right into each woman’s life and retells the struggles, the triumphs, the secrets and emotions that each one faced while dealing with the constraints of the era. I enjoyed this book so much that I am now inspired to read the original classic The Great Gatsby and to watch the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Ally, TAS, 5 Stars

As the title of this novel suggests, the reader follows the lives of three beautiful women from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Daisy’s comment when speaking to her cousin Nick, that she hopes her daughter will be ‘a beautiful little fool’ and therefore have an easier and carefree life, is a rare glimpse into the inner thoughts of Fitzgerald’s character Daisy Buchanan. Fitzgerald’s reader is left guessing as to why Daisy would say such a demeaning comment regarding her own daughter and we do not see the world from any sort of female perspective. Jillian Cantor masterfully fills in the dots, bringing Daisy, her best friend and golf professional Jordan Baker, and Catherine McCoy, a suffragette and sister of the hapless Myrtle Wilson, to life. The lives and loves of these women all interconnect and, of course, an insight of their thoughts and decisions unravels the truth behind Jay Gatsby’s untimely end. It is through Detective Frank Charles’ investigation of the murder of Jay Gatsby that the reader delves into the dazzling Jazz Age and the world of women in the 1920s. Cantor’s writing is compelling and hypnotic, transporting and enthralling the reader from the very first page. If you enjoy mysteries and stories with strong and engaging women, you will thoroughly enjoy Beautiful Little Fools, (I did not want this read to end). If you have never read The Great Gatsby, this novel can still easily be savoured and devoured. Do yourself a favour and read Beautiful Little Fools; I simply adored it! Genene, SA, 5 Stars

It’s been a long while since I read Gatsby, but that didn’t impact my enjoyment of this retelling. Beautiful Little Fools retold the story from a feminist standpoint and did a beautiful job of giving the characters depth, while keeping me intrigued as to who Gatsby’s real killer was. This book was intriguing, glittery, decadent but with depth – just like Daisy Buchanan. I loved it! Lauren, QLD, 5 Stars

I LOVED this story! This story essentially fills in the gaps of the original from the the three main female characters point of view: Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker & Catherine McCoy. On a stifling hot August day, 1922, Jay Gatsby is killed. To the police it looks self explanatory, shot by George Wilson who commits suicide afterwards. Three women fall under suspicion: Daisy, Catherine & Jordan, each represents a part of the puzzle that makes up the story of Jay Gatsby’s life & death. A lot of questions were answered in this story, I’ve loved The Great Gatsby for years now & it’s so nice to have a ‘backstory’ as it were to the original. Jillian Cantor sucks you in from the first page & the story lines were weaved & intertwined together so seamlessly. You get little fact, after little fact & by the time I got to the middle of the book I was really left wondering! It didn’t end like I thought it would, it took a total turn to the left which I didn’t expect although all of them had more than one reason to want to kill Gatsby! The emotions in the book were well written, my heart broke for all three women, especially Daisy, multiple times over the decisions they made & the results of those decisions. I was meaning to re-read TGG before I read this but I actually didn’t have to as you get the original story (from different view points) as well as the back story & a tiny bit of a continuation. All in all, this is a very well fleshed out reimagining of the classic tale & I loved it! Leah, WA, 5 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor, an American Author and new Author for me. Set in 1922 and the previous years it tells the story of the friendships, loves and obsessions of the main 4 women and 4 men. The characters were all interwoven by tragedy, want, greed, lust, love, obsession and lies. Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his swimming pool on a hot day in August 1922. Who was the shooter? Who had the most reasons to kill him? What led to his murder? When did friendships get complacent? A story of intrigue and will keep you guessing. The book has a lovely cover set in the Roaring Twenties. I enjoyed this book. Margaret, NSW, 5 Stars

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow this story as I haven’t read The Great Gatsby but I needn’t have worried. Beautiful Little Fools was wonderfully written and had me hooked from the start. Highly recommended! Susan, NSW, 5 Stars

That was one absolutely amazing read! 344 pages of pure joy and wow moments if you have or haven’t read The Great Gatsby. Part murder mystery, part everything else that makes a great novel: love, power, friendship. You’ll feel like you’re right in 1922 it’s so accurately descriptive. You’d be “a beautiful little fool” not to read this. I’m taking it to my book club. Thank you Better Reading, one of the best for 2021 and I’m looking at Jillian Cantor’s previous novels now! Five stars all the way. Rod, NSW, 5 Stars

Although I felt this was a slow burner to begin (felt the same way about F.S Fitzgerald’s original also) the momentum really picked up about a third of the way in. Loved the perspective of the women, caught up in post war glitz, glamour and an illusionary freedom from a patriarchal society bolstered by a burgeoning suffragette movement. No spoilers but I was rooting for the ladies all the way through. Thoroughly enjoyable read. Shelagh, SA, 5 Stars

The Classic The Great Gatsby retold in the voices and perspective of four women and the detective involved in trying to solve the murder of Jay Gatsby and George Wilson. The story revolves around a diamond hairpin that was found at the crime scene, each person has a connection to the lead up of the death of Jay and George. The story covers a five year period jumping between before during and after the crime. Jillian Cantor dives into the glittery speakeasy world and era of Gatsby covering the love, passion and desire of each character and spiderwebs relating to Jay, Leaving you believing that each character could have been lead to murder. The story is fast paced and easy to follow while jumping from years and characters, I could imagine myself sipping a gin while relaxing by a glamorous pool with the sound of “He had it coming” playing in my head. Jillian has developed a beautiful contrast of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald title. Thank you Better Reading and Simon & Schuster Australia for this preview read. Crystal, TAS, 5 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor explores the stories of the women of The Great Gatsby. The title comes from a line in The Great Gatsby when Daisy Buchanan wishes that her daughter will be “a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” The story is told by multiple narrators – Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, Catherine (Myrtle’s sister) and a detective looking into whether George Wilson really did shoot Jay Gatsby. I really enjoyed this novel. It gave depth to all of female characters that they didn’t get in Gatsby. I’ll admit I haven’t read The Great Gatsby (a situation this novel has encouraged me to rectify) but I have seen different movie versions multiple times and I could never really understand Jay Gatsby’s allure. This novel paints him with a somewhat darker character than just a man using his wealth and good looks to lure the love of his life back to him. It was a fantastic story. Elizabeth, WA, 5 Stars

An amazing reimagining of the classic novel The Great Gatsby, I loved this book. Jessica, NSW, 5 Stars

I loved this book!! Such an interesting way to expand on the Gatsby world whilst retaining its ability to be a stand alone with no prior knowledge needed!! Highly recommend!! Rachelle, TAS, 4 Stars

Wow! if you liked The Great Gatsby you will enjoy Beautiful Little Fools written by Jillian Cantor. It is a love story, with a murder mystery told from a female’s point of view. Heather, NSW, 4 Stars

Wow, what a tangled web of intrigue this book delivered. This story is a reimagining of the women connected to Jay Gatsby. I was fascinated by all the connections between the women, as they navigated a time when women had fewer rights than today, and depended on men for financial security. This impacted the decisions they made and some of those decisions were the basis of the mystery unfolding throughout the book. I felt compassion for each of the women, despite not always agreeing with their choices. I found it a very interesting and enjoyable read. Kim, NSW, 4 Stars

Having enjoyed The Great Gatsby, I found this a fabulous read that allowed me to enjoy the setting all over again. Thoroughly enjoying books set in this era, I found the characters and perspective presented engaging and entertaining. This allowed me to escape into another world and relax on holidays, a pleasant read. Danielle, SA, 4 Stars

A great new look at a classic novel. It was fascinating reading a novel that focussed on the women in The Great Gatsby. Great characters brought to life, and shown in all their weakness, strength, vulnerability and intelligence. A very enjoyable read with a touch of mystery. Highly recommended. Ros, ACT, 4 Stars

Jillian Cantor’s Beautiful Little Fools is like taking a ride in a yellow convertible from East Egg to West Egg. Everything is not as fun as it seems. The misogynist attitudes of Jay, Tom, George and even Nick are laid bare when we see the story from the perspectives of the women – Beautiful little fools – I think not. Traci, NSW, 4 Stars

I have never read The Great Gatsby but this has made me keen to read it. This book truly depicted the atmosphere of the period, where men were men and women were repressed and cynical. Kerry, WA, 4 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools is written from the perspective of three woman, or shall I say self-centered girls: Jordan Baker, Daisy Buchanan, and Catherine McCoy – Myrtle Wilson’s sister. The book is beautifully written with vivid descriptions of the characters and maybe that is my problem because I cannot warm to Daisy. I realise the circumstances of her upbringing make her the way she is but I just cannot connect. Otherwise it was a fascinating take on The Great Gatsby and what makes these women tick. Sandra, NSW, 4 Stars

It wasn’t until I received this book that I realised it was a re-imaging of The Great Gatsby, told mainly from three women’s point of view: Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker – Daisy’s best friend, and Catherine McCoy – Myrtle Wilson’s sister (Myrtle being Tom Buchanan’s lover in the latter part of ‘TGG’). Ironically, it’s longer than TGG but sticks to all the main elements of the original book, and it all leads to the burning question: who really killed Gatsby – and there are several chapters where a detective actively pursues that question. Quite a lot of twists and turns make it lively reading! And the title spins from something Daisy casually says early on: ‘…that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’ Then reneges on this later on, perhaps because she realises that’s a foolish thing to be (and say). It was fascinating to be back in Jay Gatsby’s world, with him as enigmatic as ever. A huge nod to the classic, with the last line reinterpreted in the last line of the second last chapter. Fans will love it! Malvina, NSW, 4 Stars

Jillian Cantor’s brilliant concept of reimagining The Great Gatsby, giving the girls of Gatsby a voice, captivates from the first line. Whereas the original Gatsby can be seen as wordy and, at times, pontificating, the girls’ version is punchy and to the point. It is marvellous to see the female characters take centre stage. No longer ‘beautiful little fools’, we see the women as strong multi-dimensional characters with their own hopes and dreams, and the complexity of their inter-woven relationships with each other and the other characters is delightfully revealed. The exuberant and decadent world of Jay Gatsby is maintained and, if anything, is given new life, and the probing investigations of Detective Frank Charles centred around a diamond hairpin, keeps the reader guessing and wondering right until the very end. Michelle, VIC, 4 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools gives the women of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby compelling backstories in a reimagined tale. Cantor’s storytelling is engaging as she shows the unique perspectives Daisy, Jordan, Catherine and Myrtle bring to the classic story. These narratives are intertwined with Detective Frank Charles’ as he attempts to figure out who murdered Jay Gatsby. While reading the original novel is not strictly necessary, it adds more meaning and depth to the female characters and the unique struggles they faced. While the ending left me wanting more I thoroughly enjoyed this female-centric retelling of such a classic novel. The female characters, especially Daisy, became more nuanced and I found myself empathising with them on a far deeper level than in Fitzgerald’s original work. If you loved The Great Gatsby this is a must read! Julia, WA, 4 Stars

The Great Gatsby with a twist. A tale of lust, wealth and tragedy, told from from a different perspective. A thrilling story, which is hard to put down. A great read! Jody, QLD, 4 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor is a reimagining of The Great Gatsby. I have never read the book or seen the movie so I read this novel with no preconceived ideas about what it would be about. Beautiful Little Fools is an easy but dark read. A murder mystery with 3 female suspects and a police detective who is still on the hunt even after the case is closed. I found most of the characters not a very likeable group and I felt no sympathy for any of them. Jillian painted them as rich, spoilt, unhappy and idle, very well. She added domestic violence, blackmail, infidelity and finally murder to give the reader a good ride with little twists (for me) on the way. Thank you Better Reading for giving me the opportunity to preview this novel and I think it will be great summer reading. Sharon, ACT, 4 Stars

Mr Gatsby, none of these women were fools and saw you for what you were. Ms Cantor’s depiction of the females of the story, identified their strengths despite being ostracised by the ego’s of the men they endured. Maryanne, NSW, 3 Stars

Having never read The Great Gatsby I had no idea what to expect from this book, I thought I would need to know the story line but was pleasantly surprised that it was a stand alone book. A tragic story of young love that was not reciprocated a few years down the track and tragically destroyed quite a few lives it kept me interested till the end. Michelle, VIC, 3 Stars

Beautiful Little Fools is my second Jillian Cantor novel after Half Life, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. I confess to not previously having read The Great Gatsby by F, Scott Fitzgerald although I am familiar with the outline. This novel follows the stories of Daisy Buchanan (née Fay), Jordan Baker and Catherine McCoy, who in various ways become involved with the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and hence become suspects in his untimely demise. The women are constrained somewhat by the social demands and expectations of the time, namely the roaring twenties but I didn’t get the same vivid impressions of the era as I did with Half Life. I felt little connection to the characters and so was not particularly interested in their doings. The men are also unlikeable but we do not see events through their eyes, although I did find the detective slightly more interesting as he tried to unravel the case to his own advantage. Thanks to Better Reading for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Lesley, QLD, 2 Stars

If you liked The Great Gatsby movie, you will enjoy this book. I will admit that it felt like rewatching the movie a bit as the story lines did not diverge significantly, but there was a bit more character depth and backstory than we got in the movie. Overall, I feel the book lacked originality, but was worth the read for a light escape. Tess, TAS, 2 Stars

Reviews

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          Publisher details

          Beautiful Little Fools
          Author
          Jillian Cantor
          Publisher
          Simon and Schuster
          Genre
          Fiction
          Released
          05 January, 2022
          ISBN
          9781761105371

          Synopsis

          A powerful reimagining of The Great Gatsby from the perspective of the three women whose lives are unravelled by one man’s romantic obsession.

          On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby. Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.

          Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby – before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well. Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.

          Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unravelling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

          This inspired reimagining of the glittering Jazz Age world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless classic is a quintessential tale of money and power, marriage and friendship, love and desire – and ultimately the murder of a man tormented by the past and driven by a destructive longing that can never be fulfilled.
          Jillian Cantor
          About the author

          Jillian Cantor

          Jillian Cantor is the internationally bestselling author of ten novels for adults and teens, including In Another Time, The Hours Count, Margot and The Lost Letter. Her books have been translated into 13 languages and chosen for Amazon Best of the Month, LibraryReads, Indie Next. She lives in Arizona.

          Books by Jillian Cantor

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