Monday, April 8, 2013

review - z: a novel of zelda fitzgerald

Book: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Author: Therese Anne Fowler
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: None
Pages: 371

I picked up this book during a recent trip to the library. It was in the new fiction section, and I remembered seeing a review of it in a magazine. I was not a huge fan of The Great Gatsby (I know.. literary tragedy) but for some reason, I was intrigued to read about the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she's a southern belle from Alabama?

Apparently, the Fitzgerald's were pretty renowned in their day for being big partiers (my computer wants to change that word to patisserie... go home, google, you're drunk.), drinkers, and socializers. F. Scott Fitzgerald's quest for fame and literary greatness is literally what ended up killing him, at the early age of 44, of a heart attack. It's a tragic story, but it is important to note, it is one of fiction. The author, Ms. Fowler, took actual letters the Fitzgerald's wrote to each other, along with other tidbits of information gleaned from their inner circle, and constructed this story of what she imagined their life to be like. The dates, places, and people are all historically accurate, but the stories of the Fitzgerald's inner lives and personal moments are a construct.

However, Ms. Fowler sure does know how to write a story. I was hooked from page one, and dying to know what happened next. Zelda is a fiery, defiant girl who is always the life of the party, and looking for the next adventure. That adventure comes in the form of a handsome officer named Scott, who is looking to make his fortune as a novelist. Her parents obviously do not approve, as this is not a suitable profession for a young man. Zelda disregards their advice, marries Scott, and moves to New York City, and the rest is history. 

I had a vague recollection of the exploits of the Jazz Age, but it was so interesting to read about the things that Zelda accomplished, as well as her husband. She ran in social circles with Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein, studied ballet and painting, had several exhibitions of her work and published several short stories. She could have been extremely successful, were she born into a different era. As it was, Ms. Fowler paints a picture of Scott Fitzgerald as an alcoholic, overbearing, selfish husband who expects Zelda to bear children, run his household, and look pretty at parties. Zelda has far more ambition than that, and that ambition eventually leads to a mental disorder.

This book is a really fascinating look into the lives of what is considered to be one of the greatest writers of our time. The story also made me very grateful to have the rights and privileges  as a woman that we have today. I probably would have popped Scott right in the face if he had said some of the things to me that he says to Zelda. 

I'm gonna go ahead and call it. If there is ever a movie adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life, he will be played by Bradley Cooper. They are seriously twinsies.

And Marion Cotillard will be Zelda.

Tell me I'm wrong.

I could work for Hollywood, people.

via                                                                                                                                                                                                            via

Here, an excerpt of a conversation between one of Scott's colleagues and Zelda:

"He loves you, Zelda. I hope you aren't questioning that."

"What good is it, though, when all he really wants is to somehow have been you? He was born into the wrong life, and Scottie and me, we have to pay for that mistake."

"How is she, anyway? I loved the photo you sent, you three in the canoe."

"She's well." Scottie, at five years old and with no recollection of life before France, fully believed what her papa claimed: that we were embarking on our biggest, best, most incredible adventure yet. "Still young enough that she's mostly oblivious to her parents' foolishness," I added with a grateful sigh. 

"The question is whether we'll improve in time to save her."

This story is thoughtful, poignant, and yes, tragic. But aren't the best stories always?

The best summation of the lives of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald is actually what their daughter, Scottie, had engraved on their tombstones. It is the sentence that ends Scott's most well known work, The Great Gatsby:

-The Great Gatsby

No comments:

Post a Comment