• The Chosen and the Beautiful

  • By: Nghi Vo
  • Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
  • Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (186 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

2021 Time Magazine Best Books of the Year
2021
Washington Post Best Books of the Year
2021
NPR Best Book of the Year

A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine | USA Today | Buzzfeed | Greatist | BookPage | PopSugar | The Nerd Daily | Goodreads | Literary Hub | Ms. Magazine | Library Journal

"Gatsby the way it should have been written - dark, dazzling, fantastical." (R. F. Kuang)

"Luxurious, thrilling, and sexy." (Adrienne Celt)

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society - she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

A Macmillan Audio production from Tordotcom

©2021 Nghi Vo (P)2021 Macmillan Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

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What listeners say about The Chosen and the Beautiful

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  • Jo
  • 09-28-21

Ignore the Boring Brigade

Reading the reviews for The Chosen and the Beuatiful after listening to the novel, I am genuinely shocked at the amount of complaining. They seem to range from "this isn't anything like The Great Gatsby" to "this is just a retelling of The Great Gatsby with magic". Both of these are reductive and imply that the readers never really understood the Great Gatsby in the first place (I assume these are the same people who complained about the modern music in the 2013 Baz Luhrman film, which was vastly superior to the "faithful" [read: boring as dirt] 1970s version).

Did it *need* the magic. No. Was it the perfect vehicle for magic? Yes. Being Gatsby-rich in the 1920s was about the closest a person could come to harnessing magical powers, so I loved how Vo just through off the yolk of a "faithful" adaption and created a dizzying and dazzling world that showed money and power in a different light and from a fresh perspective. And for anyone who grumbles about the "changes" made to Jordan, I ask you, what did F. Scott Fitzgerald have to say about her other than she liked golf and was careless? He couldn't be bothered, so Vo stepped up. Do yourself a favor, go into this novel with an open mind, and enjoy the ride.

13 people found this helpful

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Subtle but Spellbinding

Let me start by saying I am a sucker for a tragic love story and The Great Gatsby is one of my favorites. When I saw there was a retelling with magical elements and a diverse point-of-view, I had a really good feeling about it.

From page one, I fell into Vo’s writing and was completely swept away and transported to the 1920s. The Chosen and the Beautiful is a close retelling of The Great Gatsby, but it adds so much to the original story. In this version, we follow the point-of-view of a queer, Asian American and what it was like for her growing up in Louisville and life as a New York socialite in the early 1920s. One of my favorite things about this retelling is the added magical elements. Gatsby’s parties always seemed like a dash of magic was involved, but now we get to experience a world in which magic does exist. It’s subtle but spellbinding.

This story unfolds as you read it and may leave you a little unsure of what exactly is going on, but it comes through in the end. I thought the ending reveal was beautiful and it pulled on my heartstrings. The story is beautifully pieced together and keeps you wanting more. It is filled with intrigue, unique magic, mysterious speakeasies, lush atmospheric writing, complicated characters with complicated relationships, and it’s just absolutely captivating.

I could not put this story down and wanted to reread it as soon as I finished it. I think Vo gave us the diverse and magical Gatsby retelling we needed. I think both fans of The Great Gatsby and those unfamiliar with the classic will find many things to love about this retelling.

8 people found this helpful

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Worst Book Ever!!

Ruined the classic Great Gatsby!! This story is so awful I can’t believe that the publisher even permitted any of these characters to be in this book. The story is so bad I cannot believe she couldn’t even invent her own characters to tell the story. It actually would’ve probably been better if she had.

4 people found this helpful

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Hypotonic and lyrical

I literally just finished this book. I’m still speechless.

I went into this book almost completely blind with only a vague understanding that it somehow tied into The Great Gatsby—one of my favorite classics as a teen.

What I didn’t know was this hypnotic dark alluring lyrical book was almost a retelling of the original story, with a ribbon of dark magic woven into the story. It’s told from the perspective of Jordan, once a minor character now turned into a focal point—a beautiful rich Vietnamese adoptee, connected to Daisy, Nick, Tom, and of course, Jay Gatsby.

It’s effortless, gorgeous, and absolutely heartbreaking.

Naudus’s narration style is perfect for this book. Lyrical and rich, personal to each different voice. 10/10. 5 stars. Could not recommend higher.

2 people found this helpful

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Jordan Baker is the coolest.

The Great Gatsby but from Jordan's perspective, mixed with just the right amount of fantastical elements. Nghi Vo's vision completely turned my affection for Gatsby upside down. In wonderful ways!

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator excellent

Narrator was excellent. Really enjoyed it. A great angle on the original novel. I didn't really get some of the magical aspects.

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Wonderful!

Intelligently conceived, beautifully written. Fills in the behind-the-scenes details of the original with imagination and insight. The narrator was perfect.

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Gatsby redux

Vo keeps characters from Gatsby true, setting was continued nicely from original, new storyline points were perfect blend with the original.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad but wouldn't read it again

I wasn't a big Great Gatsby fan in high school, but this book was chosen for a book club I'm in so I tried to give it a fair shake by listening without making judgements based on my feelings about Gatsby from the past.

My biggest gripe with this book was that they made a point to bring up magic, to tease that there was more going on in the shadows, but that it never really felt to me like they actually did anything with that aspect of the story.

I just kind of always felt like I was left wanting and waiting. Like the whole book was building up to a climax and somehow it never arrived. So while I managed to find some enjoyment, and I really enjoy the narrator, I definitely couldn't bring myself to read it again/listen again or even recommend it to others.

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enjoyed it!

I really enjoyed this book and it's magical realism. I reread Gatsby first because I'm a nerd like that but it wasn't necessary, this book stands on it's own. It's an imaginative re-imagining.