Reviews of Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor

Beautiful Little Fools

A Novel

by Jillian Cantor

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor X
Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2022, 368 pages

    Feb 2022, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Jordan Lynch
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About this Book

Book Summary

USA Today bestselling author Jillian Cantor reimagines and expands on the literary classic The Great Gatsby in this atmospheric historical novel with echoes of Big Little Lies, told in three women's alternating voices.

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 unraveling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby's romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.

Jillian Cantor revisits the glittering Jazz Age world of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, retelling this timeless American classic from the women's perspective. Beautiful Little Fools 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.

Simultaneous hardcover and paperback release


August 1922

* * *

SHE HELD THE GUN THE WAY A CERTAIN KIND OF CARELESS MAN held his glass of whiskey. It was illegal, illicit. But, nonetheless, it was hers. She would do with it as she pleased, consequences be damned.

The gun made her hot, restless, wanting. Her heart pounded in her chest, a Nora Bayes song. The one playing that sweltering, innocent night when she saw him, years ago. Get your gun. Get your gun. She had her gun now.

He didn't see her at first, as he walked out of his house, toward the pool. Tall and slender, his naked flesh so pale it was as if he'd made it through the entire summer without letting even the smallest bit of sunlight touch him. Nothing touched him. Wasn't that what made Jay Gatsby so great?

He stepped toward the pool, that arrogant walk, that look on his face. That knowing. He had it all; he had everything. He'd taken everything. But then, just before his toe touched the water, he stopped suddenly, looked up, as if sensing her ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Is Beautiful Little Fools a reimagining of The Great Gatsby, or a murder mystery in its own right, or both? Whose story is this: Daisy's, Jordan's, Catherine's, or the great Jay Gatsby's?
  2. Discuss the role point of view plays in the novel. How do Daisy, Jordan, and Catherine each narrate their story differently? What insights does each woman give to the plot and the reader? The original Gatsby is told through only Nick Carraway's point of view. What is his role in this novel?
  3. Daisy begins with this thought: "Sometimes I think if I'd met Jay Gatsby later, say, after Daddy and Rose's accident, I wouldn't have even noticed him at all. I think how everything, how the whole entire course of my life, and his, might have turned out differently." ...
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BookBrowse Review


This is a tale of powerful women who aren't afraid to take matters into their own hands. Daisy, Jordan and Catherine are drastically different characters, but their interactions with Gatsby and the resulting secrets bind them together in unforgettable ways. Their flaws and their desires make them relatable, while their cleverness and flair make them likable. Cantor's work enriches The Great Gatsby by providing new points of view and adding an interesting twist to the narrative. Fans of historical fiction, women's fiction and murder mysteries will thoroughly enjoy Beautiful Little Fools and find themselves eager to discover who pulled the trigger...continued

Full Review Members Only (634 words).

(Reviewed by Jordan Lynch).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Cantor succeeds brilliantly with this audacious revisionist murder mystery featuring characters from The Great Gatsby...Proving once again that it is 'hard to forget the past,' Cantor's admirably convincing act of literary skullduggery offers many rewards.

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.

Kirkus Reviews
Gatsby himself is less of a cipher now that the women are getting their say...Less glittering and lyrical than the original, this Gatsby retelling reveals more about the women in the story by casting them as humans, not decorative baubles. Cantor asks and answers: Who were the real fools in Gatsby's world?

Author Blurb Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Jillian Cantor's shifting kaleidoscope of female perspectives makes F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic tale of Jazz Age longing and lust feel utterly modern. A breathtaking accomplishment.

Author Blurb Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost
In Beautiful Little Fools, Jillian Cantor gorgeously captures the complex lives of the women in The Great Gatsby, creating a delicate and intricate story that dovetails perfectly with F. Scott Fitzgerald's. It was engrossing to the final page.

Author Blurb Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars
Glittering with intrigue, full of fast-paced tension, and saturated in Jazz Age decadence, this powerful exploration of the women of The Great Gatsby will forever change the way you see the American classic--and perhaps, too, the role of women in all the stories we take for granted.

Reader Reviews

Phyllis Evans

Amazing historical/fiction page-turner!
Thanks to the Book Club Cookbook Galley Match program & Harper Perennial for an advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own. I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard about the concept: The Great Gatsby is reimagined and told ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Contemporary Retellings of Classic Stories

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor is a feminist reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic American novel, The Great Gatsby (1925). Instead of retaining Nick Carraway as the narrator, Cantor retells the story from the viewpoints of the novel's women. Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Catherine McCoy were all secondary characters in the original book. Retellings such as Cantor's often allow the stories of secondary and minor characters to be brought to life, driven perhaps by the desires of authors and readers alike to expand upon the original version. While there are many retellings set in the modern day, the following take place in the same time period as the book they are reimagining.

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