This map of France helps us understand the setting of Tender is the Night. Look at the far right corner of the map. That’s the fabulous French Riviera, kids. See Cannes? Go west, up the coast, about five miles to get to where the story begins, on the beach. Most of Tender is the Night is split between the French Riviera, and nearby Switzerland. Chronologically, the story begins in 1913. The novel itself begins in the summer of 1925. The action of the book ends in the summer of 1930.
Travel is important part of being fabulous, so we also see Africa, other parts of Europe, and in a very important section, Italy. Oh yes, and America, though briefly. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well, yes, except for the part of about the psychiatric clinic that Tender is the Night kind of doesn’t mention until Book Two, a third of the way into things. In further contrast to the lush beauty of its settings, Tender is the Night takes great care to remind us that the Europe through which the characters travel is also a mass graveyard – the aftershocks of World War I ripple through the plot. Against these contrasting settings of beauty and destruction, Tender is the Night examines the extremes of love, ambition and madness, through the lives of Nicole and Dick Diver, their friends and family and their lovers.