Boston woman scores with first edition ‘Great Gatsby’

Insomnia is a terrible thing. It can also be very lucrative. Consider the case of Carolyn Sartory, who is about to make a bundle of dough just because she had trouble sleeping. Sartory was at her place on the Cape last May when, unable to doze off, she picked up her iPad and began reading a story about Baz Luhrmann’s film “The Great Gatsby.” Scrolling down, she clicked on a related link about an auction in England of a first edition of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hmm, she thought. Sometime in the 1980s, she recalled, her late husband, Jim Lyons, had picked up a copy of “The Great Gatsby” in Manhattan, and the book was still sitting on the shelf. Sartory says her husband wasn’t a collector per se, but as a former American Studies major, he was a big fan of William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Fitzgerald, and bought books by the authors whenever he got the chance. “I became curious as I read about this book,” said Sartory, who lives in Charlestown. “The article explained the rarity of the book and described the original dust jacket. So I took a look.” She’s glad she did. Sartory placed a call to Heritage Auctions, who dispatched someone from its rare-books department to authenticate her copy of “The Great Gatsby.” He did. On Oct. 17 in New York, the copy of the Fitzgerald classic will be auctioned, with the opening bid set at $30,000. Not bad. Is she sorry to part with a book bought by her late husband? “Bittersweet is a good way to describe it,” she says. “We had so many wonderful times that were part of our life together. He would have loved that this turned out to be such an unexpected adventure.”

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