Z : A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
By: Therese Anne Fowler
Opening Line: “Picture a late June morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume – same as I would wear that evening.”
Overall: I knew very little about Zelda when I started this book. I knew that she was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife. Because I am from Minnesota, I knew that Mr. Fitzgerald is from Saint Paul, Minnesota, and I knew that he and his wife Zelda lived here for a while together too. I have read some of the famous books he has written. I knew the rumors of their extravagant life in America and Europe. That was about all I knew. Although I know this book is historical fiction, I wanted to know more about them as a couple and more about his wife Zelda in particular. So, that is why I chose to read this book. It starts off in 1918 when then Zelda Sayre is 17 years old. It talks about her home life growing up in Montgomery, Alabama. Then it tells about when and how she meets Frances Scott Fitzgerald, the man that will change her life. He was an Army Lieutenant staying at Camp Sheridan, waiting to ship out. They had an immediate attraction to eachother, but her family was not keen for her to fate him. He was not from money, he was not from the south, he say’s he’s a writer but has published nothing yet. She was pretty and had plenty of other suitors. But, of course, the two of them fall in love anyway. When Scott moves up to New York and sells his first novel, he sends for Zelda to come to New York and marry him. She agrees, and so begins their wild, fabulous, excessive, outrageous, complicated, problematic, and tumultuous life together. They are darlings of New York at the damn of the Jazz Age. She becomes the Flapper Queen, and he is the writer who’s star is on the rise. They are out every night at the best parties drinking, socializing, and meeting the right people. Their life never stops moving and they live all over America and Europe. Scott is always obsessing over writing his next novel, and with looking the part of a successful author in the meantime. He is controlling, and wants Zelda to play a certain part too, to look a certain way to society. He wants her to be the adoring, charming wife and wonderful, caring mother. But, his alcoholism and abuse makes it difficult for her to want to play that part. She is smart and has ambitions of her own. She can write, paint, and dance, but Scott does not want her to. The two of them are constantly at odds about everything. All throughout their lives they still love eachother, but they also know they are destroying eachother by being together, but they can’t seem to be happy apart either.
Ovations: There are many different versions written of the life story of Scott and Zelda. I liked that this novel gives you a version of their entire lives, from when they first met until both of their deaths. You get a complete picture of what their life might have been like together. It was interesting to learn about all the places they lived, both here in the US and in all the European counties too. I loved reading about all the other famous people they knew and considered their friends. I also enjoyed all the detailed descriptions of the beautiful things they wore and the opulent places they went. I had fun living their lavish lifestyle vicariously through this novel. The pacing of the story was good and kept you interested the whole way through to see what was going to happen next.
Oh Well: As I wrote above, there are many different and conflicting versions of the life story of this famous couple. This book focuses on Zelda more, and you really feel for her struggles. It is ultimately a very depressing book. According to this novel, Zelda was depressed, unfulfilled, sad, lonely, abused, misdiagnosed as crazy/schizophrenic and suffered terribly in mental institutions. This may all be absolutely true and it is not bad that the author tells us her story this way. But, I am just saying if you are only wanting to read a fun, frivolous book about the fabulous, flapper life of a rich, wealthy wife of a famous author …. that is not this
book at all.
Opinion: Even though it was sad and very tough to read at times, I am glad I read this book. I feel I learned a great deal about the Fitzgeralds, both as individuals and as a couple. This book really has you believe that Zelda was a tragic victim of both her husband, and of the times they were living back then. It has you feeling she could have been so much more than she was. This book has gotten me even more interested in learning other writer’s viewpoints about Zelda and Scott and it makes me want to read more books about both of them. I have already started researching which ones to read next. Rating 7 out of 10
If you are interested in this book and want to buy it now so you don’t forget, as I often do, you can click on this safe Amazon link that will bring you directly to the books page where you can buy it. Click Here: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald