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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

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A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 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 un A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 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 isn't 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.


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A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 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 un A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 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 isn't 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.

30 review for Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

  1. 5 out of 5

    Therese Fowler

    Dear Reader, Many thanks for your interest in Z. You might appreciate knowing a little bit more about what went into the creation of the novel, and why I chose to write fiction about people whose lives are so thoroughly documented in biographies. Z is fiction, but my research was extensive and thorough, and in telling the story I've stayed very close to the established facts. My personal approach to biographical fiction is to unearth and then represent the truth, even when it contradicts what peo Dear Reader, Many thanks for your interest in Z. You might appreciate knowing a little bit more about what went into the creation of the novel, and why I chose to write fiction about people whose lives are so thoroughly documented in biographies. Z is fiction, but my research was extensive and thorough, and in telling the story I've stayed very close to the established facts. My personal approach to biographical fiction is to unearth and then represent the truth, even when it contradicts what people think they know about the characters involved. Much of what we think we know about the Fitzgeralds comes from unreliable sources or has been spun into half-true myth. My mission was to set the record straight. Popular culture (Midnight in Paris, for one example) has made Zelda into a caricature, reduced her to being only an edgy flapper, or only an unstable, jealous spouse, or only a pathetic, "insane" drain of her husband's creativity and life. She was edgy--sometimes. She was jealous--sometimes. She was unstable--sometimes. But in the same way that none of us can be or should be defined by one aspect of our lives, Zelda cannot be defined so simply either. Z is the story of a complex and fascinating woman who was so much more than I knew when I began researching her life. She was exceptional in so many ways, but she was also human. Best wishes, Therese Anne Fowler

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Now on StoryGraph)

    This is Zelda Lite. I think this novel will be absolute perfection for readers who just want a quick romp through the years of Zelda's life that are most relevant to her role as the wife of a famous and very troubled writer. There's almost nothing in the book about her life before she met Scott, and only a brief Afterword covering the years from when Scott died in 1940 until her death in 1948. What you get here is a look at the years when the Fitzgeralds were the golden couple, and Zelda was the This is Zelda Lite. I think this novel will be absolute perfection for readers who just want a quick romp through the years of Zelda's life that are most relevant to her role as the wife of a famous and very troubled writer. There's almost nothing in the book about her life before she met Scott, and only a brief Afterword covering the years from when Scott died in 1940 until her death in 1948. What you get here is a look at the years when the Fitzgeralds were the golden couple, and Zelda was the Jazz Age Priestess. These years were followed by the long decline of their relationship, exacerbated by their peripatetic lifestyle, Scott's worsening alcoholism, and Zelda's troubles with what may or may not have been mental illness. Fowler takes us back in time and lets us hang out with these people and see the challenges and temptations they faced as products of their era. The author has a real flair for dialogue, and a wonderful ability to create a sense of time and place using just the right amount of period detail. If you love historical fiction that never gets boring, you're going to love this novel. Just prior to receiving this novel, I read two biographies of Zelda. If you've read much nonfiction about her, you may find yourself puzzling over why certain key people and events were barely mentioned or entirely left out of this novel. You may also find, as I did, that the way Fowler portrays Zelda does not match your interpretation of her personality. This was especially noticeable for me because the novel is written in the first person, using Zelda's voice. I would have preferred a third-person narrative, which might have allowed us to get closer to some of the other characters. On the whole, though, I found that my previous reading about Zelda enhanced my enjoyment of the novel. I was able to fill in the gaps with what I gleaned from nonfiction accounts. I'm inclined to believe that both Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald were even more diabolical in their treatment of Zelda than is shown in this novel. Their badgering and cruelty were huge factors contributing to her nervousness and emotional instability, as well as to the general perception that she was "crazy." This opinion comes largely from my reading of Sally Cline's excellent work, Zelda Fitzgerald Her Voice in Paradise. I have not yet read any biographies of Scott. My understanding is that his biographers portray him in a much more favorable and sympathetic light. If anything I've said here seems uncomplimentary, that's certainly not my intent. Therese Fowler's careful research is evident on every page, and her writing is truly a pleasure to read. The only readers who might be disappointed are those looking for greater detail and a broader scope. This novel is a delightful introduction to Zelda and an invitation to learn more about her life.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    A biographer doesn’t need to possess the same level of intelligence, eloquence, wisdom or imaginative reach as her subject because biography is essentially telling, not showing. A novelist, on the other hand, cannot convincingly create a character who is more intelligent, eloquent, wise or more imaginatively complex than she herself is because there will come times when she has to prove it. These make-or-break moments will often arrive in the writing of dialogue. The author states that “much of A biographer doesn’t need to possess the same level of intelligence, eloquence, wisdom or imaginative reach as her subject because biography is essentially telling, not showing. A novelist, on the other hand, cannot convincingly create a character who is more intelligent, eloquent, wise or more imaginatively complex than she herself is because there will come times when she has to prove it. These make-or-break moments will often arrive in the writing of dialogue. The author states that “much of what we think we know about the Fitzgeralds comes from unreliable sources or has been spun into half-true myth. My mission was to set the record straight.” But then she proceeds to do exactly what she’s complaining about and takes the myth making to a whole new level. And of course she’s more of an unreliable source than the people she’s referring to. I would argue her statement that the popular perception of Zelda has reduced her “to being only an edgy flapper, or only an unstable, jealous spouse, or only a pathetic, "insane" drain of her husband's creativity and life” is wholly unfounded. The popular perception of Zelda is much more complex and fully formed than that. And yet this is the treatise Fowler seeks to disprove in this novel. To do this she sanitises Zelda, whitewashes all her excesses, dumbs her down. She makes her reasonable, domesticated, conventionally likeable and the victim of the insensitivity of others. She exaggerates her talent, as an artist, a mother and a woman which, ironically involves trivialising her brilliance. She gives us conversations that never happened – thus revealing herself as a completely unreliable source. And, like I said, there’s a big problem when an author tries to put words into the mouths of people who were much more brilliant, eloquent and intelligent than she herself is. The belittling process begins here. This is how Zelda herself writes Scott’s dialogue in her own novel Save Me the Waltz - "If you would stop dumping ash trays before the company has got well out of the house we would be happier.” That’s sophisticated dialogue – there’s psychology and wit in it. You can imagine it as something Scott actually said. And this is how Fowler writes Scott’s dialogue – “If not for my blood, my sweat and my – my- determination, you’d be nobody special, just another aging debutante wasting away the years somewhere in Alabama. It’s my life that made yours worthwhile! And yet all I get is selfish ingratitude.” The less said about that the better. Poor Scott gets these misogynist clichés dumped on him throughout the novel, like the literary equivalent of canned boo’s. Scott was eloquent after all – no one would deny him that. It’s impossible to imagine him capable of the crassness Fowler attributes to him in every argument he has with Zelda. Perhaps I’m simply taking this novel too seriously. Really, it’s little more than fluffy light entertainment. And perhaps I wouldn’t have taken it so seriously had I not read and then taken issue with the author’s declaration of intent in which she clearly aspires to creating a historical document. Her mission is “to set the record straight.” Most pointedly of all, the author gets round the very tricky problem of depicting Zelda’s madness by ignoring it. The irony is, were Zelda capable of writing such a rational grounded account of her own life she wouldn’t have been Zelda; she would have been someone else. She completely leaves out some of Zelda’s most infamous stunts – like trying to wrestle the wheel from Scott and drive the car over a cliff with her young daughter in the back seat. You can’t come up with a reasonable explanation for that so she ignores it. She also greatly exaggerates Zelda’s talent as a writer. "The swing creaks on Austin's porch, a luminous beetle swings ferociously over the clematis, insects swarm to the golden holocaust of the hall light. Shadows brush the Southern night like heavy, impregnated mops soaking its oblivion back to the black heat whence it evolved. Melancholic moon-vines trail dark, absorbent pads over the string trellises.” This excerpt from Zelda’s Save Me the Waltz is like something from a teenage self-published author. Scott has taken a lot of flak from feminists for his reluctance to have this book published. No doubt he was irritated she was encroaching on his territory – that’s just human nature - but perhaps he also wanted to save her from the savagery of criticism he assumed would follow? Zelda could write some fantastic one liners – “I’m much too proud to care – pride keeps me from feeling half the things I ought to feel.” - and was capable of insights of absolute brilliance but that doesn’t make her a novelist. Of course another huge problem is Scott wrote about Zelda so much that there are many instances when Fowler is describing scenes he has written beautifully into his books and needless to say she never comes out of these comparisons well. Zelda herself wrote some of these scenes into Save Me the Waltz and even she did a better job. So what we have here is a massive act of hubris on the part of the author. To write a convincing novel about Scott and Zelda you’d have to be as artistically gifted as they were. Essentially the author uses simplistic contemporary doctrines to further a thesis she had arbitrarily formed before writing the novel. Feminism can be no less guilty than any other ism of seeing only what it wants to see in order to create a simplistic judgemental doctrine. Imagine if the tables were turned and someone wrote a novel positing the idea that Virginia Woolf stifled Leonard’s gifts as an artist. Or that he was responsible for Virginia’s madness. Blame isn’t as simplistically apportioned as Fowler would have it. Scott, by all accounts, was reckless, irresponsible, narccissistic, emotionally immature, fatally insecure but these were all traits he shared with Zelda. They were soulmates in the most classic sense. . The ultimate irony is Fowler thinks she’s doing Zelda some kind of favour by writing this book. This is a daytime TV Zelda, a Zelda whitewashed into middle class respectability, stripped of her dark sorcery. If you want to read about the real Zelda Nancy Milford’s heartbreaking biography is excellent - Zelda.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Flat-out terrible. Full of anachronisms and totally wrong speech patterns, and even worse, Scott and Zelda don't sound like themselves at all, and the author wrote pale unconvincing imitations of their letters when volumes of them are available! So disappointing. Not recommended at all. SAMPLE DIALOGUE: "I went to the window. 'I never woulda thought it. Not like this.' I turned back toward him. 'You're sorta impressive.'" Flat-out terrible. Full of anachronisms and totally wrong speech patterns, and even worse, Scott and Zelda don't sound like themselves at all, and the author wrote pale unconvincing imitations of their letters when volumes of them are available! So disappointing. Not recommended at all. SAMPLE DIALOGUE: "I went to the window. 'I never woulda thought it. Not like this.' I turned back toward him. 'You're sorta impressive.'"

  5. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    "Marry me, Zelda. We'll make it all up as we go." "Have another glass of champagne and tell me more." "You'll make it worth my while, right?" That's it: my whole review. I'll be over here crying in the corner if you need me. And just in case there was anyone who thought my heart wasn't sufficiently broken this year, Hadley Hemingway showed up here again to make sure it stayed broken. Stop whatever you're doing and go read this, then watch Midnight in Paris then embarrass yourself over twitter by pic "Marry me, Zelda. We'll make it all up as we go." "Have another glass of champagne and tell me more." "You'll make it worth my while, right?" That's it: my whole review. I'll be over here crying in the corner if you need me. And just in case there was anyone who thought my heart wasn't sufficiently broken this year, Hadley Hemingway showed up here again to make sure it stayed broken. Stop whatever you're doing and go read this, then watch Midnight in Paris then embarrass yourself over twitter by picking a fight with a very confused Tom Hiddleston. Maybe not the last part.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Roze

    I read this book for my A-Z book title challenge. Wow! I really enjoyed this book! I learned so much about the Fitzgeralds and I originally knew very little. Zelda was a fascinating women with bipolar disorder, but most of the book was before her hospitalizations. All I knew about her before the book was that she was married to Scott and had mental health troubles and was in and out of hospitals. This book showed so much more than that. Majority of her life, she was very healthy and active. She I read this book for my A-Z book title challenge. Wow! I really enjoyed this book! I learned so much about the Fitzgeralds and I originally knew very little. Zelda was a fascinating women with bipolar disorder, but most of the book was before her hospitalizations. All I knew about her before the book was that she was married to Scott and had mental health troubles and was in and out of hospitals. This book showed so much more than that. Majority of her life, she was very healthy and active. She was always trying to push the roles of women and change the expectations that society had. It was a very fascinating book that I learned a lot from. I highly suggest everyone read this book :) Thank you to all my goodreads' friends that suggested this book to me for my A-Z challenge!

  7. 4 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    The Jazz Age was a particularly hedonistic time and few who lived it, came through it unscathed. Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald certainly did not escape scot-free but after reading this book, my sympathies lie much more with Zelda. In all honesty, I came away from finishing this book feeling immensely sad for Zelda: even given her faults, you can't say she wasn't trying to have a life; a life away from all the booze, the fun, the people. If she'd left Scott, the law denoted that she would lose her The Jazz Age was a particularly hedonistic time and few who lived it, came through it unscathed. Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald certainly did not escape scot-free but after reading this book, my sympathies lie much more with Zelda. In all honesty, I came away from finishing this book feeling immensely sad for Zelda: even given her faults, you can't say she wasn't trying to have a life; a life away from all the booze, the fun, the people. If she'd left Scott, the law denoted that she would lose her daughter so she stayed but immersed herself in her art and her ballet. It also saddens me how many difficult women in those years found themselves in mental institutions, subjected to all manner of treatments. Remember Frances Farmer; the actress institutionalised at a film studio's request and then subjected to a frontal lobotomy? Often, the length of your stay was decided by your psychiatrist and your husband! On a lesser note, this is the third fact/fiction book which mentions Ernest Hemingway and I find his attitude to women in them all is far from attractive. And if I never hear him say something is good and clear and true again, I'll be a happy woman. I find myself liking Zelda, sad for her life and terribly sad for her unnecessary death. I wonder what woman she might have been if born into a time when the law was kinder and more just to women and she'd had a dependable husband. I'm a bit jealous of Therese Anne Fowler that she had got to peruse documents between Zelda and Fitzgerald; I'd love to have seen the real thing. An exemplary effort on Fowler's behalf 4.5★

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This is well-researched piece of historical fiction which, notwithstanding the good intentions of the author, falls rather flat. It tells the story of Zelda Sayre Fitgerald's life from the time she met her husband Scott in 1918 until his death in 1940, covering their courtship and marriage, their "Jazz Age" antics in New York, their life together in France, Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental health problems. Fowler squarely puts herself in the camp of those who take the view that Zelda's brea This is well-researched piece of historical fiction which, notwithstanding the good intentions of the author, falls rather flat. It tells the story of Zelda Sayre Fitgerald's life from the time she met her husband Scott in 1918 until his death in 1940, covering their courtship and marriage, their "Jazz Age" antics in New York, their life together in France, Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental health problems. Fowler squarely puts herself in the camp of those who take the view that Zelda's breakdowns were chiefly caused by her failure to conform to expected female behaviour and to the repression of her artistic potential by her insecure and abusive husband. I don't know enough about Zelda Fitzgerald to assess the accuracy her characterisation as a sensitive and intelligent woman unable to achieve her potential because of the repression of women in marriage in particular and society in general. That's a good thing, because I came to the novel without preconceptions or expectations. However, I recognise anachronisms when I see them, and they abound in this work. Further, even though the dialogue is marginally less flat than that in The Paris Wife, Zelda generally sounds less like a real person and more like the author's idea of her. There was a time when I didn't read historical fiction in which the central characters are real people because I preferred to read a biographer's take on the primary sources than a novelist's reinterpretation of biographical material. Hilary Mantel is the writer who converted me to the idea that this kind of historical fiction could be as or even more compelling than a good biography. Suffice to say that Fowler is not Hilary Mantel. That said, her writing didn't bore me, it wasn't difficult to read and it's made me interested enough in Zelda Fitzgerald to want to read both some of her writing and a biography. And that's a very good thing. I have my dear friend Jemidar to thank for this book. She knows just what I need to feed my obsession with the Lost Generation.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I hate to say it, but I didn't like this book. I started out with such high hopes: I love Zelda Fitzgerald and I was excited to read a book about her! But the Zelda I knew and loved was not in this book. My Zelda was fiery, charming, tempestuous, spoiled, and selfish. She was mentally ill and her highs were higher than anyone elses'. She was the epitome of The Flapper. This Zelda was a pale imitation of the original, a namby-pamby sentimental girl that the real Zelda would've eaten for breakfast I hate to say it, but I didn't like this book. I started out with such high hopes: I love Zelda Fitzgerald and I was excited to read a book about her! But the Zelda I knew and loved was not in this book. My Zelda was fiery, charming, tempestuous, spoiled, and selfish. She was mentally ill and her highs were higher than anyone elses'. She was the epitome of The Flapper. This Zelda was a pale imitation of the original, a namby-pamby sentimental girl that the real Zelda would've eaten for breakfast! This Zelda was maternal (I always thought of her as someone who loved her daughter, but only wanted her around when it was convenient), soft, and only rejected Fitzgerald's proposal of marriage because she worried he would never fulfill his potential (my understanding of it was that she was young, enjoyed the attention of all her suitors, and wanted someone with better prospects than this upstart Yank). The crazier things she did - throwing herself down a flight of stairs when Scott flirted outrageously with Isadora Duncan, handing her panties to an author as a going away present - seem like something done by an alternate personality, not just someone with alleged Bipolar Disorder. I was disappointed - I wanted my crazy, demanding, Valentine of a Zelda, not this whitewashed version. For all her flaws, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was a complete original, a fabulous woman with a tragic ending, a Flapper who lived better and worse than anyone else, and that is the woman I wanted to read about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    4.5 stars. I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book. I screamed when I opened the envelope and succeeded in getting my husband to run into the room to see if I had been hurt. To say that this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013 would be an understatement. Let me just say that I was most definitely not disappointed. This is such a good book about someone that has often been maligned after her untimely death. When I was in high school, I read a non-fiction book of love 4.5 stars. I was so excited to get my hands on an ARC of this book. I screamed when I opened the envelope and succeeded in getting my husband to run into the room to see if I had been hurt. To say that this book was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013 would be an understatement. Let me just say that I was most definitely not disappointed. This is such a good book about someone that has often been maligned after her untimely death. When I was in high school, I read a non-fiction book of love letters between Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Even though I don't recall the exact name of the book, I loved the book. I loved Scott and Zelda's love story. I even loved how absolutely complicated their love affair was. You could see that Scott and Zelda really loved each other but that their relationship was not really healthy for either of them. I think they were a fascinating couple so I was very excited to read this book. Told from Zelda's point of view, it quickly became clear how wild their relationship was. They were up and down and each seemed to feed on the others insecurities, fears, and emotions. I loved that the book was told from the point of view of Zelda. It follows from Zelda and Scott first meeting in Zelda's hometown until the dismal end of their relationship. There is a lot of debate about whether Zelda made Scott's problems worse or if Scott made Zelda's issue worse. This book takes the stand that Scott essentially drove Zelda crazy. He had an incredible ego and seemed to get off on showing how much more successful he was than Zelda (fun fact: some of Zelda's stories were published under Scott's name and he had absolutely no problem taking credit). It's not hard to see why some of the issues she had (it's generally acknowledged that she had some sort of mental illness like bipolar disorder) were greatly magnified when Scott and Zelda were together. I loved Zelda's voice in this book. You really do feel bad for her. When the book opens, she seems like a really fun person; one that you would want to hang out with. You get to see all of Zelda's innermost thoughts and innermost dreams. Fowler truly brings her to life. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is an amazing portrait of an incredibly fascinating woman. Fowler really makes Zelda jump off of the pages! This book just about has it all. There's incredible detail and a really vivid picture of one of America's greatest literary couples and a great storyline behind it all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... read by Jenna Lamia Gin, martinis, parties, cigarettes, Hemingway... (Fitzgeralds buddy)... drunken nights, enchanting history of the ‘Jazz Age’ marriage quarrels, maids, cooks, governesses, art, essays, stories, music, little, sleep between activities, writing, painting, interviews, Fancy hotels and restaurants, romance, travel, dance lessons, reconciliation, more arguing, sipping brandy, jealousy, public commodities, entertainment business, ambitions, jokes, men, women, fixation on sens Audiobook... read by Jenna Lamia Gin, martinis, parties, cigarettes, Hemingway... (Fitzgeralds buddy)... drunken nights, enchanting history of the ‘Jazz Age’ marriage quarrels, maids, cooks, governesses, art, essays, stories, music, little, sleep between activities, writing, painting, interviews, Fancy hotels and restaurants, romance, travel, dance lessons, reconciliation, more arguing, sipping brandy, jealousy, public commodities, entertainment business, ambitions, jokes, men, women, fixation on sensuality, ballet, plies, Paris, ‘The Great Gatsby’, pressures, fascinating thoughts about writing and writers, assumptions were rampant, secrets, heavy alcohol consumption, developing feminist, physical and mental illness, tumultuous times, tragedy, astonishing epic journey!!! and GREAT SADNESS! I was absolutely totally hooked - literally swept away with the entire storytelling experience. I loved the audiobook!! This is the second book I’ve read by Therese Anne Fowler... I want more!!!! I enjoy Fowler’s writing thoroughly!!!! “A Good Neighborhood”, still remains in my thoughts! Becoming a new Fowler fan!!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    On Completion: By the end of the book my heart melted and I did feel empathy for Zelda. For Zelda, but not Scott. If the book is giving you trouble and if what you are looking for is understanding of and empathy for the characters continue to the end. Yet, I cannot give the book more than three stars. Why? The first thing I did on completing the book was to search the web for more information about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (1900—1948) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). There are two camps - those On Completion: By the end of the book my heart melted and I did feel empathy for Zelda. For Zelda, but not Scott. If the book is giving you trouble and if what you are looking for is understanding of and empathy for the characters continue to the end. Yet, I cannot give the book more than three stars. Why? The first thing I did on completing the book was to search the web for more information about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (1900—1948) and F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940). There are two camps - those who say Scott suppressed Zelda's creative abilities and those who claim that Zelda's mental health, or more correctly her lack thereof, was detrimental to Scott's writing career. Which is it? He suppressed her or she suppressed him. It depends on whom you talk to. This novel is written from Zelda's point of view; she is telling us her life story. In 1951 Arthur Mizener wrote the biography The Far Side of Paradise: A Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald; interest in the couple revived. Originally the view was that Scott was a writing failure and Zelda was to blame. This was the general view held until 1970 when Nancy Milford wrote a biography of Zelda - Zelda. The tables were turned. Zelda became an icon of the feminist movement. Therese Anne Fowler’s book follows Mitford's general thesis. I don't think we will ever know the whole truth. My view? In any relationship fault is usually found on both sides. Scott and Zelda fit each other. They lived dizzying lives. Both sought a life that would put them in the center of high society. Along with that followed infidelity, boozing and bitter recriminations. Their daughter, Scottie, wrote after their deaths: I think (short of documentary evidence to the contrary) that if people are not crazy, they get themselves out of crazy situations, so I have never been able to buy the notion that it was my father's drinking which led her to the sanitarium. Nor do I think she led him to the drinking. Wiki refers to Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald as its source. Into which camp you fall will probably be influenced by how you view Hemingway. He was Zelda's enemy from day one. She absolutely detested the complicated friendship that grew up between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. She accused Hemingway of being a fairy! Hemingway! The book accurately details the known events of Scott's and Zelda's life together. It concludes with the death of Scott, but an afterword fills in with facts about the remaining eight years of Zelda's life, her death and information about their daughter. There is little humor in the book. You need a bit of that now and then. I have read very funny things about Scott. True details that will make you smile. They are not here in this book. I wasn't engaged until far into the book. The dialogs and the writing didn’t move me. So much more could have been done through descriptions of the places they lived. Jenna Lamia narrates the audiobook. Her accentuated Southern drawl fits the young, spoiled Zelda superbly. However her intonations for Scott and Hemingway are just so-so. Zelda matures a bit at the end. I don’t think this is well reflected in the intonation. Well, at least the book improves by the end. It finally pulled me in. It gives one view of the conflicted relationship between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. ************************************** After 24 chapters: I am about half way now. I didn't give up, and I am glad I didn't. It is improving. Quite simply b/c I am beginning to get into the head of Zelda. I don't have to like her, I just have to understand her and understand the relationship between her and Scott. I want to be fair in my judgment; it is wrong to just criticize and not praise when a book does improve. ****************************************** After chapter 13: This is excruciatingly hard to read. It is that bad! It is terrible. Not only are the people more than despicable, the writing is deplorably bad. - Empty dialogs. The yapping (i.e. the conversations), which should show us each individual's soul, is empty - No depth to the character portrayals. - Events are insufficiently depicted.....a trip to Europe (London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome) is done in a few lines. The first child is born, but never do you feel with depth the mother's or the father's emotions. The audiobook narration by Jenna Lamia is, I guess, appropriate It fits the empty dialog. What a bad start to the year. A total waste of time. I don't know if I can bear to continue. I am sorry, I never believed this would be so bad. I just cannot keep my mouth shut any more.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    3.5 Stars and apparently I’m ready to ring in the Roaring 20s with my selections this week! If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, this should be a winner for you too. I’m not sure what sparked my new Scott and Zelda obsession, but I’m not hating it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    There is much to admire in this offering about Zelda, her life and of course her and Scott's lives. It is always great to read about this time period, all these writing greats, and always I am left wondering how if they were all forever broke, they managed to drink constantly and travel always. Of course it was hard to read of Zelda, her psyche crumbling and diagnosis of schizophrenia, her years in a mental facility.This is a well written book about interesting people who wrote many of the clas There is much to admire in this offering about Zelda, her life and of course her and Scott's lives. It is always great to read about this time period, all these writing greats, and always I am left wondering how if they were all forever broke, they managed to drink constantly and travel always. Of course it was hard to read of Zelda, her psyche crumbling and diagnosis of schizophrenia, her years in a mental facility.This is a well written book about interesting people who wrote many of the classics that are still revered today. My only little nagging complaint is that this Zelda is not as edgy as she has previously been portrayed. She is a little more sympathetic and a little more pitiful. Will appeal to readers of this time period and the authors that became famous from this group.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    My Fitzgerald fascination began almost 30 years ago as a student when I read The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night swiftly followed up by Nancy Milford's excellent biography of Zelda. This new novelisation of Zelda's life is perfectly timed to coincide with the latest movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby and will hopefully stir more interest in this flawed but fascinating couple. On the surface Zelda seems like a spoiled Southern gal with a taste for the finer things in My Fitzgerald fascination began almost 30 years ago as a student when I read The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night swiftly followed up by Nancy Milford's excellent biography of Zelda. This new novelisation of Zelda's life is perfectly timed to coincide with the latest movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby and will hopefully stir more interest in this flawed but fascinating couple. On the surface Zelda seems like a spoiled Southern gal with a taste for the finer things in life but she isn't a celebrity bimbo and underneath that sparkling flapper exterior lurks a razor sharp intellect. Her struggle to reconcile playing the dutiful wife whilst suppressing her creative urges is documented in this meticulously researched novel. The author does an excellent job of capturing Zelda's voice as she narrates the tortuous story of her life with Fitzgerald, the good times and the bad, her stays in asylums, his battle with the bottle, their scintillating social life with the rich and famous including Hemmingway who never clicked with Zelda. As well as being Zelda's personal story this is an excellent representation of the highs and lows of the Jazz Age - it was such an exhilirating time for writers, especially those of the Lost Generation - Zelda regularly socialised with Hemmingway, TS Eliot, Dos Passos, Ezra Pound as well as Picasso and Jean Cocteau. In this novel you get a real feel for the life of those ex-pats in France and their hedonism after the spectre of the Great War. If you think Paris Hilton is the archetypal modern Flapper, then perhaps you should read this novel and learn from the original and the best.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    The first part of this book was delightful. Zelda came across as a very engaging, fun character and the story romped along with her. Scott Fitzgerald however was not presented in such a charming manner and once they are married and we have moved houses and countries with them a few times the pace of the book begins to slow and becomes just a little boring. The last part of the book is where the reader sits up and becomes angry on behalf of poor Zelda and what she has to go through. This is a fic The first part of this book was delightful. Zelda came across as a very engaging, fun character and the story romped along with her. Scott Fitzgerald however was not presented in such a charming manner and once they are married and we have moved houses and countries with them a few times the pace of the book begins to slow and becomes just a little boring. The last part of the book is where the reader sits up and becomes angry on behalf of poor Zelda and what she has to go through. This is a fiction story based on information about their life together but I am not familiar with what really happened so cannot comment on the truth of it all. However it makes good, entertaining reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    When my husband took English lit. in college, he did a paper on F Scott Fitzgerald; and over the years he has talked about Zelda being this mad woman who was insanely jealous of Scott’s success, etc. Thus I really looked forward to reading this book, my first foray into Zelda’s world. Although not entirely factual, it is based on letters and known events researched by Therese Anne Fowler. I just loved Fowler’s rendering of the couple’s courtship and early years together. They both were intellige When my husband took English lit. in college, he did a paper on F Scott Fitzgerald; and over the years he has talked about Zelda being this mad woman who was insanely jealous of Scott’s success, etc. Thus I really looked forward to reading this book, my first foray into Zelda’s world. Although not entirely factual, it is based on letters and known events researched by Therese Anne Fowler. I just loved Fowler’s rendering of the couple’s courtship and early years together. They both were intelligent, adventurous, interesting, clever (also reckless and self-centered), living in all the best places and socializing with the elite. Lots of name dropping and lots of drinking here. Their marriage seemed to be a genuine partnership, both having Scott’s writing career their main focus. But then Zelda grew restless and bored when Scott was either holed up writing or off partying. It was the 1920’s and a wife was meant to be a “wife” in the truest sense. The fact that Zelda had a remarkable brain and creativity of her own was something she wanted others to know, not just that she was the woman behind the famous man. When Zelda developed colitis or whatever that was, and had to stop drinking, the proverbial camel’s back began to break. No more drinking on her part led her to dabble in writing her own stories and studying ballet again, which became an unhealthy obsession. Scott had to find other drinking partners, one of which was Ernest Hemingway, who Zelda hated and blamed for the further break in the marriage. History tells that she had schizophrenia and spent years in and out of institutions. This book may make one wonder if it really was schizophrenia, or just the fact that she didn’t fit the norm of what a wife should be, and even if Scott just didn’t feel better about himself with her confined and out of the way. This book led to quite a discussion (all right, argument) with my husband on that subject, I of course being on the side of the oppressed Zelda (Team Zelda) and he of course on Team Scott. It also prompted me to go watch the movie Midnight in Paris. All in all fascinating and I am so glad to have read it! Fowler’s writing was superb.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    “SO WE BEAT ON, BOATS AGAINST THE CURRENT, BORNE BACK CEASELESSLY INTO THE PAST" The young Scott Fitzgerald at only twenty-three years of age had been the youngest writer ever to publish a novel with Scribner. He fell in love with the youthful and joyful young southern girl Zelda. It all seemed quite a fairytale arrangement, an officer and a gentleman, youth, fame, and art. The pursuit of his art and his writing life became quite a stumbling block in Zelda’s life especially when she became a mo “SO WE BEAT ON, BOATS AGAINST THE CURRENT, BORNE BACK CEASELESSLY INTO THE PAST" The young Scott Fitzgerald at only twenty-three years of age had been the youngest writer ever to publish a novel with Scribner. He fell in love with the youthful and joyful young southern girl Zelda. It all seemed quite a fairytale arrangement, an officer and a gentleman, youth, fame, and art. The pursuit of his art and his writing life became quite a stumbling block in Zelda’s life especially when she became a mother and found herself having to put opportunities and dreams in her life on hold living under the shade of her husbands fame. Ultimately a price was to be paid, for all the greatness achieved did not go without its casualties with health demise, and a decline in happiness, the beautiful ran along with the damned and doomed in the timeline of the Fitzgerald existence. There was plenty of love and passion in that Southern woman and while Scott was consumed in ‘The most important book of his life’ and his pursuit of meaning and excellence she found herself wooed by a Latin army officer she found herself attracted away from her husband this daring wife was for a small time in love something she missed, her spark went out for a while with Scott totally engrossed in his obsessive pursuit of greatness. Many fascinating things around the writers life was learned of in this story I found quite interesting the choosing of name The Great Gatsby among others including. Trimalchio High Bouncing Love Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires Trimalchio of West Egg Gold Hatted Gatsby On the Road to West Egg Under the Red White and Blue Read and learn of the meeting of great writers including Gertrude Stein who was then a fifty-year-old never-married woman an authoritative on modern writing, Zelda’s meeting with Theodore Dreiser and reading his release then of the great new An American Tragedy and her meeting with Thomas Wolfe and her reading of his great story Look Homeward Angel all interesting and inspirational to writers. Her fending off, of men in the form of the peering eyes and hands of Ernest Hemingway and the Ezra Pound scandalous. Her traveling over continents across oceans in the shade and trail of the famous, of movie stars and the rich and damned in order so that he could acquire his inspiration and complete his writing was a test on her character. His fame on the outside, the great novels, the money, and fame, eventually rotted away his inner being and qualities, and all the while she wanted to succeed on her own but with a child in her care taking up of her dreams was not so easy. She did have a fruitful life of money and bountiful material goods but the Fitzgerald’s after reading this seem more like living the fates written of in The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night and his other writings of fiction. Scott and Zelda the two artists were ambitious and success driven people, they seemed to have an ill fate over them, a bad blood, a bad curse, that has traveled down their generations and had only one way of exit, in that of death. I anticipate and wait for the Scott Fitzgerald point of view of this story to come to fruition by this writer or a similarly capable author. I will be re-reading again The Great Gatsby and watching the movie, I will read Tender is the Night and others with more insight and Read Zelda’s novel and short stories, including the authors Thomas Wolfe and Theodore Dreiser all due to this inspirational and captivating insider view into the life of the Fitzgerald’s and especially one great and talented woman an artist of many shades Zelda. This was a great effort, brilliantly strung together from real lives into a plausible and realistic emotional charged journey, a portrait layered out in words wonderfully. A reader will come away knowing, through seeing and feeling via the author successfully showing in her writing, what it was like to be Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. He bowed. “Lieutenant Scott Fitzgerald, hoping to make your acquaintance.” His voice was deeper than I’d expected, with no trace of Alabama or any place Southern. I pretended to be shocked by his forwardness. “Without a proper introduction?” “Life is potentially very short these days-and, your latest partner might return at any moment.” He leaned closer. “I’m wiser than I am impetuous or improper, rest assured.” “Well. General Pershing ought to be consulting you on strategy. I’m Zelda Sayre.” I offered my hand. “Zelda? That’s unusual. A family name?” “A Gypsy name, from a novel called Zelda’s Fortune.” He laughed. “A novel, really?” “What, do you think my mother is illiterate? Southern women can read.” “No, of course. I’m impressed, is all. A gypsy character-well, that’s just terrific. I’m a writer, you see. In fact I’ve got a novel being read by Scribner’s right now-they’re a New York City publishing house.” “He danced as well as any of my partners ever had-better, maybe. It seemed to me that the energy I was feeling that night had infused him, too; we glided through the waltz as if we’d been dancing together for years. I liked his starched, woolly, cologne smell. His height, but five inches taller than my five feet four inches, was, I thought, the exact right height. His shoulders were the exact right width. His grip on my hand was somehow both formal and familiar, his hand on my waist both possessive and tentative. His blue-green eyes were clear, yet mysterious, and his lips curved just slightly upward. The result of all this was that although we danced well together, I felt off-balance the entire time. I wasn’t used to this feeling, but, my goodness, I liked it.” “Scott grew a mustache and read Byron and Shelley and Keats, all in preparation, he said, for the task ahead of him. How the mustache would help him write I couldn’t say, and I don’t think he could, either.” “Believing Europe had turned toxic, or at least toxic for us, we moved to a charming little house in Montgomery, where I would have my family to help me readjust. Little had changed in the eleven years we’d been away, but for me, everything had changed. I had changed. Freedom from Prangins had been my greatest desire, yet like a slave after emancipation, I wasn’t quite sure how to exist in this quiet, calm, open-ended world, how to be a mother to my cautious daughter, a wife to any man-let alone one as observant and particular as Scott. When he left Scottie and me for an unexpected six-week job in Hollywood for MGM, my moods and my confidence rolled like the ocean in a storm, leaving me seasick, sometimes, and scared. I’d been forbidden to resume ballet-and was so out of condition that I was hardly tempted anyway-so to steady myself I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote: essays, stories, letters to friends, an article for Esquire, the start of a book.” Review also @ http://more2read.com/review/z-a-novel-of-zelda-fitzgerald-by-therese-anne-fowler/

  19. 5 out of 5

    Primrose Jess

    I'm prefacing this review with the disclaimer that I acknowledged this book as a work of fiction right from the get go and relaxed into it as such. What I didn't expect was that it would be an impetus for me to scour the used book sites for biographies on both F.S. Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. I have quite a stack to begin to sort through as well as an illustrated educational book on The Jazz Age to peruse. I'm fascinated by the couple, their writings, and am now eager to read accounts of th I'm prefacing this review with the disclaimer that I acknowledged this book as a work of fiction right from the get go and relaxed into it as such. What I didn't expect was that it would be an impetus for me to scour the used book sites for biographies on both F.S. Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. I have quite a stack to begin to sort through as well as an illustrated educational book on The Jazz Age to peruse. I'm fascinated by the couple, their writings, and am now eager to read accounts of their lives. I loved the narrator in this audio. She made me feel as if Zelda was in the room speaking in a conversational tone. The story flows easily and the nods to literary references found in Fitzgerald's writings are prevalent. I highly recommend this in audio format. The Book Itself: Fowler takes us from the early courtship of Zelda and Fitzgerald through their wanderings of Europe and ultimate return to the states. We see their struggles through Zelda's eyes (or supposed eyes based on Fowler's research). I was captivated by the parties, the clothes, the discussions on writing, societal customs, Zelda's art and dance, and ultimately with the couple themselves. However, each time I was intrigued with an aspect of the story, I would stop and wonder if it was real since this is a work of fiction. Hence my new 2017 study into the couple's lives and works. So I'm incredibly appreciative to Fowler for this book as it is opening my literary experience. As a caveat, Fowler is firmly on Team Zelda and it is obvious where her sympathies lie in the couple's issues/disagreements/grievances.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    The life of Zelda Sayre is exciting, glamourous, chilling, and intriguing. This book is historical fiction, but I'd like to believe that it's more accurate to the true character of this amazing woman that was married to F Scott Fitzgerald. The reputations of their relationship alone makes this one that any reader would be interested in picking up, for me, I couldn't put it down! (Which worked out well, as I was racing against time to finish it for a challenge by year end!) Zelda and Scott came a The life of Zelda Sayre is exciting, glamourous, chilling, and intriguing. This book is historical fiction, but I'd like to believe that it's more accurate to the true character of this amazing woman that was married to F Scott Fitzgerald. The reputations of their relationship alone makes this one that any reader would be interested in picking up, for me, I couldn't put it down! (Which worked out well, as I was racing against time to finish it for a challenge by year end!) Zelda and Scott came alive on these pages, with cameos from Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. I happened to be in NYC for the last chunk of the book and got to see St. Patrick's Cathedral and Scribner's old building-- which is where Scott and Zelda married and then headed to Scribner's to see Scott's first published book! The author did a brilliant job researching and bringing Zelda to life without tarnishing her reputation. I end this book desperate to read more about this couple and their lives... The only downside was that I felt the ending was a bit rushed, the way the rest of the book was written pulled me to a point, where I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen, and then it all spewed out over a few pages.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Luca

    Z a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a biographical work of fiction by Therese Anne Fowler. The story takes off in Montgomery, the hometown of a seventeen-year-old Zelda Sayre, who meets soldier F. Scott Fitzgerald. He quickly manages to enchant Zelda, who has never met a professional writer before, and the two fall in love even though her father strongly disagrees with the match. To me, this was a lovely and intriguing story that carried me away to a different time and different places. I truly see Z a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a biographical work of fiction by Therese Anne Fowler. The story takes off in Montgomery, the hometown of a seventeen-year-old Zelda Sayre, who meets soldier F. Scott Fitzgerald. He quickly manages to enchant Zelda, who has never met a professional writer before, and the two fall in love even though her father strongly disagrees with the match. To me, this was a lovely and intriguing story that carried me away to a different time and different places. I truly see Zelda as an interesting character, and biographical fiction does the trick a little better than just reading facts only. What I find most fascinating is how Zelda seems a little out of place during the era she lived in. On the one hand, she was quite revolutionary as the ‘first flapper’ and I think she would have marveled in a world where she was treated as an individual being rather than merely a wife. On the other hand, Fowler’s version of Zelda was continually influenced by Scott, by her traditional parents, and even by doctors during the time of her being ill, who all kept reminding her that being a wife, and the ‘duties’ that came with it were more important than everything else. What I regretted is that this book did hardly give us anything about Zelda alone, given that it started just before Zelda and Scott met, and ended shortly after Scott’s death. Nevertheless, this book is brilliant if you want to get better acquainted with the Fitzgerald’s works as it gives you a good feeling of the circumstances and time during which they both lived and worked as writers/artists. I rated this book with 4 out of 5 stars, because this book took me on a fascinating journey across time.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald should first and foremost be regarded as a semi-fictional account of the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although the main events of this book are real, proven instances from their tumultuous life together, the perspective put forward is at best imagined by author Therese Anne Fowler. If I had to compare it to another similar style of novel, I would draw comparisons to The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which tells a similar tale Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald should first and foremost be regarded as a semi-fictional account of the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although the main events of this book are real, proven instances from their tumultuous life together, the perspective put forward is at best imagined by author Therese Anne Fowler. If I had to compare it to another similar style of novel, I would draw comparisons to The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which tells a similar tale from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway's first wife Hadley Richardson. However, I felt that this was still an excellent account of Zelda Sayre's life, and the emotions and thought processes depicted came across as very honest and real. This novel made me almost spit with anger at points internally on the lack of support and encouragement Zelda received throughout her life, particularly from her husband. It's a feminist's utter nightmare, and I felt proud of Zelda for trying to pursue her interests and dreams so constantly, even if ultimately it led to them being crushed and her almost complete breakdown. It was good to see things from an alternate point of view, and find out a little more about the "real" Zelda Fitzgerald, who was more than just a wife and mother. I really want to read some of the source material that Fowler used, such as the letters between Zelda and Scott themselves. I feel comforted knowing that this book was very well researched, but at the end of the day much of it is still fiction (including the fictionalised letters in this book), and I would love to read something that came entirely from Zelda next. However, I think I will have to wait a little while before I do so - reading this one account of her life has really taken it out of me, both mentally and physically!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen)

    3 Stars Zelda Fitzgerald is someone everyone views differently and this book is no exception. It tries to show several perspectives of her life... was she mentally ill? Was her husband in-the-closet? Was she manipulative? There's still so many questions that this one interpretation raises, but never can really answer. This was interesting, but not particularly memorable. 3 Stars Zelda Fitzgerald is someone everyone views differently and this book is no exception. It tries to show several perspectives of her life... was she mentally ill? Was her husband in-the-closet? Was she manipulative? There's still so many questions that this one interpretation raises, but never can really answer. This was interesting, but not particularly memorable.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    Even now, I wouldn't choose differently than I did. For me, this was a fascinating biography. I entered it with little knowledge of anything beyond the works of her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. As it turns out, that gave me an insight into their lives for many of his stories were thinly veiled, fictionalized versions of his dreams and demons. A golden couple of the Jazz Age that skated the edge for too long, the stress of reality and the Great Depression inevitably took a toll on them emotio Even now, I wouldn't choose differently than I did. For me, this was a fascinating biography. I entered it with little knowledge of anything beyond the works of her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald. As it turns out, that gave me an insight into their lives for many of his stories were thinly veiled, fictionalized versions of his dreams and demons. A golden couple of the Jazz Age that skated the edge for too long, the stress of reality and the Great Depression inevitably took a toll on them emotionally, psychologically, and physically. It is written as first person point of view from Zelda's perspective and gives a strong sense of an intimate diary. It frames her life from childhood in the Deep South to the wild parties of NYC to the glittering carousel of postwar Paris. As a couple they were like flames making one giant bonfire, both burning bright. Scott chasing his next novel and dueling with the demon of alcoholism, both believing the act they put on to sell more books wasn't them, and the machinations of outsiders meddling in their marriages--and not just infidelities. Let's just say, I like Hemingway's writing, but he's obviously an ass and this book really nails him to the wall. Hard to imagine that my regard for Hemingway as a person or lack thereof could actually decrease but it plummeted. For readers who come to this book with a more informed background might not be as impressed; this is an entertaining biography not an academic one. For me, it was a missing piece of mosaic that helped add a whole section of a picture developed in my mind from years of history and art, all the people mentioned and how they tied in helped me weave the information together. Zelda was a modern woman, who unlike many of her feminist friends, climbed into the cage of marriage not because she was stupid, but because like many women who do, she loved Scott. Alas, love does not conquer all, it can be a salve as we battle realities or the greatest torment. Anyone who's been in a long term relationship knows that it is like the ocean, waves come, you go up and down, and you either cling together or drift apart or occasionally, who climb on top of the other drowning them. This story does a beautiful job of demonstrating both Scott and Zelda's love for each other, unfortunately they were trapped in time and a certain prescribed set of values and as the less privileged party Zelda suffered for it. The greater sacrifice was hers. Work of a wife. That was it, W-I-F-E, my entire identity defined by the four letters that I'd been trying to overcome for five years. For years, Zelda wrote short stories to help finance the family coffers and from the start the editor said they could get more money if they sold them under Scott's name--so she did. When she finally wrote a book and published it under own name the reception was less favorable. The process was ego destroying for both Fitzgeralds and gave their demons stronger footholds. At the end, I'm melancholic. Their lives were a heroic and tragic, larger than life. Btw. Fowler claims this is not a biography rather a fictionalized imagining of what it was like to be Zelda, for simplicity's sake I have shelved it as such.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    A Real Page Turner Fowler brings the life and times of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to Technicolor brightness. This is a work of imagination but it reads as if it was literally true. There are so many legends and larger than fact stories about this couple yet, in “Z”, they come across as human and not stereotypes due to Fowler’s skill. A late 20’s woman who dreams of becoming a professional prima ballerina??? Zelda was eccentric (some would say mentally ill instead or in addition) but her longin A Real Page Turner Fowler brings the life and times of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to Technicolor brightness. This is a work of imagination but it reads as if it was literally true. There are so many legends and larger than fact stories about this couple yet, in “Z”, they come across as human and not stereotypes due to Fowler’s skill. A late 20’s woman who dreams of becoming a professional prima ballerina??? Zelda was eccentric (some would say mentally ill instead or in addition) but her longings were still based in real talent(s). Scott wasn’t the only dreamer in this family. Zelda was a writer, artist and dancer as well as wife, mother, and principal cheerleader to her husband’s ambition. It’s hard to separate out their quirky personalities from the alcohol that fueled their behaviors. We as readers already know their story ends tragically yet I found myself hoping for a different outcome. Again this speaks to Fowler’s literary skills. I kept wondering what Zelda would have done with her life if she’d been born in more modern times. Would she have harnessed her talent in one of these areas and excelled? It’s hard to say. On the other hand would she even have dreamed as large as she did if she hadn’t met and married Fitzgerald? Together they were a phenomenon as well as a powder keg. I loved Fowler’s take on the Zelda/Scott/Hemingway situation. She makes it as immensely dimensional as it probably was. Too bad we’ll probably never know the entire story. Hemingway’s lightly veiled account of Zelda in his “A Moveable Feast” might have been more self serving than factual. The parts of the book set in New York City right after their marriage and at the rise of Scott’s early career and their later French sojourn are fascinating. The Fitzgerald’s flesh out the place and time as much as it impacted them. It’s almost as if you couldn’t have one without the other. “Z” is unputtdownable. I didn’t want it to end. I found myself stopping to read or reread some of Scott’s work when it’s discussed. This speaks to the longing I had to ‘live’ with this couple for a longer time. I’m going back and forth between rating this a four or a five star book maybe because I’m wondering if great literature should be this much fun. This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher. (Disclaimer included as required by the FTC.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    What a life! And I mean that in both a negative and a positive way. It's always interesting to read a book that takes place during this time frame. It amazes me how different life was for a woman back then. I couldn't even imagine living that way. There were many instances where my heart broke for Zelda and many of those instances occurred simply because she was a woman. Even so, Zelda is portrayed as a strong woman who was likely misunderstood. In this book we are able to see some happy times a What a life! And I mean that in both a negative and a positive way. It's always interesting to read a book that takes place during this time frame. It amazes me how different life was for a woman back then. I couldn't even imagine living that way. There were many instances where my heart broke for Zelda and many of those instances occurred simply because she was a woman. Even so, Zelda is portrayed as a strong woman who was likely misunderstood. In this book we are able to see some happy times along with the troubled times. It is my understanding that although this is fiction, it is based largely on facts. I think Fowler did a great job representing Zelda's possible point of view throughout this book. Fowler had me believing she was Zelda herself.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Therese Anne Fowler's novel "Z", a fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald and her tumultuous marriage with F. Scott Fitzgerald, may not add anything new to the body of biographical literature available, but for someone like me, who has never read a biography of Zelda or Scott Fitzgerald prior to this book, it is nevertheless a fascinating and enlightening view into the lives of the Fitzgeralds. History and biographers, according to Fowler in her afterword, have not been kind to Zelda. Or Scott Therese Anne Fowler's novel "Z", a fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald and her tumultuous marriage with F. Scott Fitzgerald, may not add anything new to the body of biographical literature available, but for someone like me, who has never read a biography of Zelda or Scott Fitzgerald prior to this book, it is nevertheless a fascinating and enlightening view into the lives of the Fitzgeralds. History and biographers, according to Fowler in her afterword, have not been kind to Zelda. Or Scott, for that matter. Fowler, who obviously conducted years of extensive research, says that biographers have either taken one of two approaches: Zelda ruined Scott's life, or Scott ruined Zelda's life. This, she says, is completely unfair to both of them. Indeed, Fowler does not seem to be interested in laying blame for anything in her novel. Fowler's very plausible contention is that Zelda and Scott were two very sweet, idealistic and extraordinarily naive young kids (Scott was 24 and Zelda was 20 at the time of their marriage) who were too quickly thrust into a life of fame and celebrityhood. They were the Roaring Twenties equivalent of rock stars, and the non-stop partying quickly took its toll. Zelda Sayre was a Southern belle from Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of a very loving and conservative couple. When she met and fell in love with Scott, a young army lieutenant, everyone---especially her parents---warned her that Scott was not right for her. He was too ambitious, too wild, too unrealistic in his dreams of becoming a famous writer. She didn't care. Theirs was a whirlwind romance, spurred by Scott's success with his first novel, "This Side of Paradise", published when he was only 23.They married soon after, and they quickly moved to France. It was there that the Fitzgeralds became part of the artistic and intellectual elite of artists and writers living there. They became friends with people like Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway. It is Scott's deep friendship with Hemingway that Fowler notes was the tipping point for the Fitzgerald's downfall. She is not very kind to Hemingway, whom she describes as a two-faced male chauvinist asshole, which he probably was. Interestingly, while she never actually confirms it, Fowler suggests the possibility that there was a strong homoerotic relationship between Scott and Hemingway. Apparently, at one point in their marriage, Zelda was extremely jealous of her husband's relationship with Hemingway. Fowler also notes, in her afterword, that no one knows what really happened between Zelda and Hemingway, but at some point, a cordial relationship between the two almost overnight became vicious and hateful. In her novel, Fowler creates a scenario in which Hemingway unsuccessfully tries to rape her during one of his notorious drunken escapades, but this incident is simply speculative. The novel paints a sad portrait of a failing marriage, brought on by Scott's alcoholism and, later, Zelda's mental illness. Misdiagnosed with schizophrenia (Fowler believes that she was most likely bipolar), Zelda spent many years in and out of institutions, suffering at the hands of overzealous doctors and harsh treatments such as electro-schock therapy. Amazingly, through all this, the couple managed to successfully raise a daughter, Scottie, and Zelda even became a somewhat successful writer herself, much to the chagrin of Scott. "Z" is a good read, especially for those unfamiliar with the lives of the Fitzgeralds, and it is probably a good starting point for delving into the number of biographies about both Zelda and Scott.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I'm not good at reviewing books, basically I just write my thoughts to look back on. This is a work of fiction told in the voice of Zelda Fitzgerald. After reading The Great Gatsby & The Paris Wife I wanted to know more about Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald. I read Guests on Earth by Lee Smith which is set at Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina. Zelda would live there for periods of time beginning in the late 1930's & would die in the fire that occurred in 1945; one of 9 women. She was treated I'm not good at reviewing books, basically I just write my thoughts to look back on. This is a work of fiction told in the voice of Zelda Fitzgerald. After reading The Great Gatsby & The Paris Wife I wanted to know more about Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald. I read Guests on Earth by Lee Smith which is set at Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina. Zelda would live there for periods of time beginning in the late 1930's & would die in the fire that occurred in 1945; one of 9 women. She was treated there for a mental condition that began in her 30's but was never correctly diagnosed. I thought Therese Anne Fowler did an excellent job of bringing these characters to life. I also enjoyed the beautiful descriptive writing of Montgomery, AL, Paris, Antibes, I love when the writing is so great you feel as if you're there. A story of tragic love and a tragic lifestyle. "Warm words, though, are no panacea. Our ruts were now so deeply cut into the landscape, and we were so tired and worn, that neither Scott nor I could steer ourselves anyplace new." Zelda Fitzgerald

  29. 5 out of 5

    christa

    How do you like your Zelda Fitzgerald: Wild child crack up, undoer of F. Scott or misunderstood artist under the thumb of a drunk narcissist? History has given us plenty of versions of the former. But Therese Anne Fowler’s “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” is the first I’ve seen that portrays feminine half of the Jazz Age’s hot celebrity couple -- Scelda, anyone? -- as a promising writer/painter/ballerina whose ambition keeps landing her in psychiatric care. In her fictional dramatization of actu How do you like your Zelda Fitzgerald: Wild child crack up, undoer of F. Scott or misunderstood artist under the thumb of a drunk narcissist? History has given us plenty of versions of the former. But Therese Anne Fowler’s “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” is the first I’ve seen that portrays feminine half of the Jazz Age’s hot celebrity couple -- Scelda, anyone? -- as a promising writer/painter/ballerina whose ambition keeps landing her in psychiatric care. In her fictional dramatization of actual events, Fowler tells Zelda’s story the way Zelda herself might have told it, rather than letting her historical definition come from urban legend and a mysteriously pissy Ernest Hemingway. And if, at times, it comes across a little bit unreliable, well that’s quite in line with the images of her that we already have. Fowler’s story, a giant flashback, takes readers back to Montgomery, Alabama, where young Zelda Sayre, daughter of the local judge, is a rip-roaring good-time girl. Easy on the eyes and with the lips. She’s got a dance card filled for the foreseeable future -- but quickly clears it to make way for a young soldier stationed in her town. He’s a Yankee and a writer and his eyelashes go out to here. The two engage in some sexytime, get engaged, he moves to New York City to carve out a life they can settle into. Except, Zelda’s got a gaggle of dudes making desperate grasps for her calf-length skirt and she’s tired of waiting for Mr. Center Part to establish himself enough to give her the life she wants. This is a fire poker to the old ribs for F., who writes a novel and gets it publish and now is worthy of the wicked Zelda. Things get real whirl-windy -- in just the way you would imagine for the dashing dude and his lovely sassafrass. New York to Paris to Gertrude Stein to Ballet Russes to Hemingway and back again. There are friends, parties and damaging flirtations with others. There are money problems and drinking problems. Zelda’s voice begins to define itself after the birth of their daughter Scottie. She becomes more serious about her own artistic interests and paints and gets published -- usually under her husband’s name -- and spends the length of a work-shift every day studying ballet and becoming a decent dancer. All of this eventually leads to her first stint in a psychiatric clinic. While this definitely a different view of Zelda than see in, say, Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” Fowler only gets into the head and heart of this character revisited in the final what-say 50 pages of the story. Until then, it’s not-so imaginatively imagined fan fiction that places Zelda in all of the who-what-wheres of the Fitzgerald timeline. Here she is, receiving a super-expensive fur coat, a him purchase Scott can’t afford. Here she is storming out of the Stein-Toklas residence because she’s been shuffled off to a room with the wives. There isn’t a lot of introspection on what it feels like to be this woman married to this man and living in this time. The greatest amount of thought seems to be Fowler’s consideration of what could have possibly gone down -- or rather, ahem, up -- between Hem and Zelda to create such an animosity. As the couple dances between liking and loathing, institutionalized and not, Fowler catches a rhythm. Zelda, here, is scattered and lucid and poetic and thoughtful. She gets to the epicenter of Zelda’s complex relationship and sanity and vision of herself rather than just rattling off something more like Zelda Fitzgerald fan fiction that really just stars a character with a famous name doing the same things that her inspiration did. The whole package makes for a readable and easily digestible about interesting people, but not as good as emotionally thorough as it could have been.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michele Weiner

    I can't help but think Zelda would be mortified at the thoughts this woman put into her head. The portrait of this extraordinarily talented and troubled woman read like the inner life of a staid, matronly conformist upset that her husband was an alcoholic philanderer who stole her best writing. If only there was more from Zelda's own hand. She wrote a book about the disintegration of her marriage, for heaven's sake, and it's not the hand-wringing, poor me stuff in this book. Or not from what I'v I can't help but think Zelda would be mortified at the thoughts this woman put into her head. The portrait of this extraordinarily talented and troubled woman read like the inner life of a staid, matronly conformist upset that her husband was an alcoholic philanderer who stole her best writing. If only there was more from Zelda's own hand. She wrote a book about the disintegration of her marriage, for heaven's sake, and it's not the hand-wringing, poor me stuff in this book. Or not from what I've read about it so far. The one good thing about Z is that it made me so mad to see Zelda represented this way that I ordered a copy of her collected writings so I can get a feel for who she is myself. I give the book a three because I believe the historical data is correct and the issues Zelda had are reported accurately, as far as they go. I don't give it more because it doesn't seem possible that Zelda was thinking the thoughts that this author put in her head. I am reminded of HhH, about the murder of the monster Heydrich in Prague. I didn't like the way the author stressed about how to write a historical fiction; he had to put thoughts in Heydrich's head and words in his mouth without knowing exactly what had been thought or said. Difficult, I'm sure, but at the end of the day, if the reader can't believe the thoughts, words and actions ascribed to the subject, the book fails.

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