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Tender Is the Night

Tender Is the Night Summary


Here you will find a Tender Is the Night summary (F. Scott Fitzgerald's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Tender Is the Night Summary Overview

At a serene location on the French Riviera, a strikingly attractive young actress named Rosemary Hoyt, holidaying alongside her mother, encounters Dick Diver, a charismatic American psychologist. Immediately smitten, she is pulled into the glamorous, high-society life led by Dick and his wife, Nicole. However, the gaiety unravels as an inebriated acquaintance of the Divers commits murder, triggering Nicole's mental breakdown, and leading Rosemary to witness Dick comforting his distressed wife. The narrative then rewinds to the circumstances that led to Nicole and Dick's union. A Yale alum and Rhodes scholar, Dick meets Nicole at a clinic in Zurich where he's studying clinical psychology, and she's being admitted for treatment. The wealthy Chicago heiress had fallen victim to her father's sexual abuse, resulting in her severe aversion towards men. Despite this, the duo fall in love, leading to Dick assuming dual roles as Nicole's husband and psychiatrist. Their life, marked by extensive travels and the birth of two children, seems content until Nicole's condition regresses, prompting their decision to invest in a Swiss clinic. Tensions escalate when a former patient accuses Dick of infidelity, leading to Nicole crashing their car in a fit of rage. After learning about his father's demise, Dick returns to America for the funeral, only to renew his romance with Rosemary upon his return. The aftermath sees Dick spiraling, resorting to alcohol, ending up in jail, and ultimately losing his standing at the clinic. After returning to the Riviera, Nicole has an affair and requests a divorce to marry her lover, Tommy Barban. Recognizing Nicole's recovery from her psychological issues, Dick consents and subsequently vanishes into the American landscape, never to settle down, indicating his continued nomadic existence.

book 1

In a quiet French coastal town, young American actress Rosemary Hoyt and her mother, Mrs. Speers, arrive at a small hotel. At the beach, Rosemary is drawn to a group of tanned, attractive individuals, among them, Dick Diver, who she quickly falls in love with. Rosemary and her mother explore the nearby cities of Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo. The next day, Dick invites Rosemary to join his group where she meets Nicole Diver, Abe North, Mary North, and Tommy Barban. Despite being attracted to Dick, Rosemary is fascinated by the group's elegance and exclusivity. Under her mother's recommendation, Rosemary meets filmmaker Earl Brady, sparking off a mutual attraction. Back at the Diver villa, Dick plans a party, inviting both the tanned and pale groups. At the party, tensions escalate between the groups, but despite this, Rosemary confesses her love for Dick. Later, Violet McKisco stumbles upon a disturbing scene in the Divers' bathroom. This incident results in a duel between Tommy Barban and Albert McKisco, which luckily ends without any serious injuries. The group, now including Rosemary, visit a World War I battlefield and later have drinks in Paris leaving Nicole to rest. A somewhat intoxicated Rosemary invites Dick to her room, but he gently turns her down. The next day, Rosemary and Nicole go shopping and later, with the rest of the group, they watch Rosemary's movie, "Daddy's Girl". After the screening, Rosemary reveals she has arranged a screen test for Dick, who refuses adamantly. Later, Dick and Rosemary attend an artistic party, which Rosemary dislikes. In the taxi back, they share a passionate kiss and Dick confesses his love for Rosemary but maintains he cannot leave Nicole. The group continues their revelry, seeing off Abe North on his trip to America. On the train platform, a woman shoots an Englishman dead, causing a commotion. Meanwhile, Dick grows jealous after hearing a story about Rosemary's past dalliance. As Dick tries to sort out his complicated feelings, an unexpected incident occurs. A man is found dead in Rosemary's room, prompting Dick to remove the body discreetly. This incident, however, triggers Nicole into a distressing state, revealing to Rosemary what Violet McKisco had seen previously in the Divers' bathroom.

book 2

The narrative now explores Dick Diver's backstory. A former Yale student and Rhodes scholar, he studies psychology under Freud in Vienna during the war, before relocating to Zurich in 1917. After the war, he returns to Zurich where he reconnects with Franz Gregorovius (referred to as Dr. Gregory by his American patients), an old friend and fellow student. It is revealed that Dick met Nicole Warren, a patient at the Zurich clinic, before leaving to serve in France. During his service, Nicole writes him numerous letters that show a gradual improvement in her mental health. Her condition, a severe and progressively worsening fear of men, is eventually explained by her father, Mr. Devereux Warren. After his wife's death, he and Nicole became uncomfortably close, eventually turning their relationship into an incestuous one. Upon disclosing this, the clinic sends Mr. Warren back to Chicago. Dr. Gregory credits Nicole's improvement to Dick's influence. The two reconnect, spending a night together, and although Dick initially intends to distance himself, his feelings for Nicole intensify. Despite a planned extrication from Nicole's life, after a chance meeting in a Swiss town, they embark on a romantic relationship. By the next part of the story, Nicole and Dick are engaged despite disapproval from Nicole's sister, Baby. A montage follows, depicting their marriage, the birth of their children, and their travels, all while Dick struggles to maintain fiscal independence from his wealthy wife. In a conversation with Mrs. Speers before she leaves for America, Dick confesses his feelings for her daughter, Rosemary. He also worries about Nicole's mental health following two breakdowns. On a trip to the Alps with Baby, Dr. Gregory proposes he and Dick buy a failing clinic. Dick hesitates due to financial dependence but eventually agrees. After a year and a half at the clinic, Dick and Nicole's relationship suffers. This worsens when Nicole finds a note accusing Dick of seducing a patient's daughter. Her mental health spirals, culminating in a car crash. In light of these events, Dick takes a leave of absence to Berlin. There he learns about the death of a friend, the escape of a Russian prince, and receives word of his father's passing. He returns to the U.S. to bury his father. Back in Europe, he runs into Rosemary in Rome and they resume their romantic relationship. Meanwhile, Baby encourages him to sell the clinic and move Nicole to England. After a drinking spree, Dick gets into a fight with a taxi driver, leading to his arrest. Despite Baby's attempts to secure his release using her wealth, he spends the night in jail, further damaging his reputation.

book 3

Dr. Gregory's wife, Frau Kaethe, expresses her displeasure towards the Divers to her husband. She feels mistreated by Nicole and mentions Dick's growing problem with alcohol. Dr. Gregory becomes concerned and looks for a way to remove Dick from the clinic's operations. He sends Dick to meet a wealthy Chilean and his son, who's seeking treatment for his son's issues. However, Dick deems the case unsolvable. During his trip, Dick encounters an acquaintance from Riviera, who informs him of Nicole's father's terminal illness. The news prompts Mr. Warren's desire to apologize to Nicole for his past abuse. Dick, before approving a visit, decides to consult Dr. Gregory. Unfortunately, Frau Kaethe accidentally shares the news with Nicole, causing her to rush to see her father, only to find he has already fled. After an incident involving Dr. Gregory's alcoholic son who reportedly smelled alcohol on Dick's breath, Dick ends up leaving the clinic. The Divers then move to their villa on the Riviera, where they enjoy a quiet life until a visit to Mary North, who married Hosain, a wealthy man from Asia. Dick, bored, gets drunk and unintentionally offends Hosain's sister. This leads to a heated exchange with Mary. Back at their villa, a fight with their intoxicated cook strains the Divers' marriage. To avoid confrontation, Dick spends a night on an acquaintance’s boat, drinking heavily and upsetting an English woman named Lady Caroline. Meanwhile, Nicole and Tommy Barban have a long conversation. The next day, Nicole gives Tommy a bottle of cough syrup against Dick's wishes. Overheard gardener gossip about an affair and letters from Rosemary and Tommy add tension. When they meet Rosemary at the beach, Dick’s failed attempt at impressing her with a water-ski trick and Mary North’s snub doesn't change Rosemary's high opinion of him. Nicole, angered by Rosemary's attempt to involve their children in acting, sends Tommy a provocative letter. After spending a tense evening with their children, Nicole returns from shopping to find that Dick has left for Provence. Tommy then pays Nicole a visit. Nicole and Tommy spend the night together. Upon returning home, Nicole finds a disoriented Dick but her attempts to comfort him prove futile. Later, Dick bails out Mary North and Lady Caroline from prison after a wild night. Following a haircut appointment, Tommy reveals his love for Nicole to Dick. Unexpectedly, a man Dick had encountered in Paris announces the Tour de France, leading to a swift agreement on Dick and Nicole's divorce. At the beach, while Nicole and Tommy are together, Dick has a final conversation with Mary North, who lauds his past self. The story ends with Nicole and Tommy's marriage and Dick moving to New York to continue his medical practice. Nicole hears that he leads a respected life but keeps moving to quieter towns, possibly to avoid troubles with women.

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