Something Gorgeous

is Junior Burke’s debut novel. Set in the world of Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Something Gorgeous weaves historical figures with imaginative characters: “Faye Kingsley had blue eyes. She would say they were green, simply because green was her favorite color. It was as though by telling so obvious an untruth, she was daring people to deny her something. And many people, even boys and young men who got close enough to gaze at her face, came away saying that Faye Kingsley’s eyes–at certain angles, in certain lights–were indeed green…”


Something Gorgeous is a speculative retelling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby. There are different plot twists and a new insight into the hero, George Ritz (Gatsby), usually referred to simply as Ritz. The heroine, Faye Kingsley, is more vulnerable, more likable, more like Zelda Fitzgerald than Daisy ever was. The same is true of Ritz, where Gatsby is concerned. His story begins in Venezuela and ends in a swimming pool on a Long Island estate. In between, Ritz endures World War I and is tapped by the British to spy on the neophyte Nazis as they begin searching for a leader. When he is discharged from the army, too late to stop Faye from marrying the wrong man, Ritz turns to bootlegging and narcotics trafficking as a way to quickly build a fortune large enough to tempt Faye away from her husband.

Junior Burke’s narrative is compelling and richer in both characters and plot than the original. He has created some new characters: Ritz’s boss Harold Meyerstein, who is a conglomeration of Prohibition-era gangsters, and Major Hamilton, a British army officer. The narrator is Judith Ealing, Faye’s friend, golf pro and protégée of Meyerstein. Even purist Fitzgerald fans can enjoy it.