Thursday, May 2, 2013

Julie's Review: Call Me Zelda

Summary:  From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity. When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended.... ~amazon.com

Review: I don't know what it is about the way Ms. Robuck writes but she has a way of making historical figures leap off the pages. She did it with Hemingway's Girl and she's done it again with Call Me Zelda. I can honestly say that my knowledge of the Fitzgerald's was limited before I picked up this book and while I realize that it is a fictionalized account of their lives, it is a very fascinating one.

Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are the epitome of a toxic relationship. They use and abuse each other in the name of  "art". This relationship would be hard for anyone to take but worse because of Zelda's mental instability. Zelda was not an innocent in this by any means but Scott was horrible. Do I think they loved each other? Yes, deeply but it wasn't healthy. They poked and prodded each other until one would explode. It is amazing that their daughter appears to have come out somewhat unscathed.

The narrator, Anna, was the center of the story for me. It was her stability and friendship that helped Zelda when she needed it the most. Anna isn't without her own story and for me that was intriguing. I wanted to know what happened to Ben and Katie. I wanted her to heal and move forward. As toxic as the Fitzgerald's were for Anna, they also opened up her eyes and let her live again. 

I can't write this review and not mention Anna's brother, Peter. He was a hoot and a real shoulder for Anna  to lean on when she truly needed one. He might have questioned her and been worried about her but he never discouraged her from doing what she was passionate about pursuing. Also I thought a drunk priest was pretty funny at times.

I can't wait to go back and read Ms. Robuck's first novel Receive Me Falling this year. I also look forward to whatever she writes about next. Ms. Robuck is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction novelists.

Final Take: 5/5

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