Two recent novels—The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo and Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor—retell The Great Gatsby’s story ... Cantor’s is by far the weaker of the two efforts ... The rest of Beautiful Little Fools follows this pattern: Any situation from the original novel in which a female character might be found at fault has been carefully reworked to render her blameless and victimized ... The men in Beautiful Little Fools are all selfish brutes and the women are, if not outright saints, remarkably noble, selfless, and long-suffering. They are also extremely dull, and indistinguishable in voice and temperament. It could be argued that ...Cantor’s version testifies to a truth about gender relations in 1922 to which Nick, and possibly Fitzgerald himself, was oblivious. But if so, then Nick somehow also made them more witty and dashing ... Beautiful Little Fools strips the gauzy romance from The Great Gatsby down to the bare kitchen-sink melodrama of soap opera.
Unlike the original destructive, self-absorbed characters and the pervasive issue of class, Cantor focuses instead on portraying Daisy and her fellow females in a sympathetic light, reimagining and empowering them to speak to readers with a feminist bent.
Cantor succeeds brilliantly with this audacious revisionist murder mystery featuring characters from The Great Gatsby ... Cantor successfully captures the style and tone of the 1925 novel with vivid details ... Proving once again that it is 'hard to forget the past,' Cantor’s admirably convincing act of literary skullduggery offers many rewards.