Monday, July 22, 2013

Julie's Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Summary: I wish I could tell everyone who thinks were ruined, Look closer…and you'll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed. When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isnt wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner's, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick's Cathedral and take the rest as it comes. What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein. Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby's parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous sometimes infamous husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott's, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda's irresistible story as she herself might have told it.  

Review:  For those curious about Zelda's early years with Scott, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald will appease them. For those of us that don't really know much about the muse behind the man, this will be an eye opening read. I liked Zelda. She was spunky and fun, until Scott started to bring her down. Was she insecure? Yes, but later in her life when he had stripped her of any independent nature. She was to be his muse and nothing else.

We meet Zelda shortly before she meets and falls in love with Army officer, Scott Fitzgerald. Theirs is a whirlwind romance that Zelda will spend the rest of her life recovering from and trying to understand.  Zelda in her own way is a multifaceted talent. She writes, dances and paints. Not only that but she is of quick wit and humor. She is intelligent and understands the publishing business as well as her husband. It is unfortunate that a lot of her stories had to have his name and hers together when all he did was edit them. They were fully her ideas and thoughts.

While Zelda made the most of their traipsing around the globe, I felt that she longed for a stable house and husband. At first it was fun and glamorous but that quickly became old as Scott fell deeper into alcohol. Ms. Fowler suggests that Ernest Hemingway was the demise of the Fitzgerald's marriage but I think he was only a symptom in a marriage that was already suffering from cracks. He definitely wasn't a good influence on Scott.

There were times during the novel where I felt that Ms. Fowler was trying to write about too much of their lives. I think it might have been more beneficial if she concentrated more on a certain period in their lives than to span all of it.

It is wonderful to see that Zelda if finally getting her due in the literary world even if some of it is through historical fiction. I will be looking for her works in the library so that I can get a sense of the woman in her own words. 

Final Take:  4/5



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