The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Z : A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

 

It has been my great pleasure to receive and read an advanced reader’s edition of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (A) by Therese Anne Fowler.

Zelda Fitzgerald was the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.   She met him while he was stationed in her hometown, Montgomery, Alabama during the First World War. They married just as Scott’s first novel, This Side of Paradise was published.  They honeymooned in grand style, spending his “new” money on champagne, hotels, and entertainment. They chummed with the new and notable in particular with the young writer Ernest Hemingway. Their lives soon became out of control. According to Zelda, meeting Hemingway was the beginning of their end.

Fowler’s novel is very much like A Paris Wife by Paula McLain. While one wife speaks of Hemingway and the other Fitzgerald, they exist in the same time period; encountering the same cast of characters; living almost the same life.  Both men drank and partied excessively and neither one was faithful. While Hemingway and Hadley divorced, Zelda and Scott stayed together.  Zelda paid dearly for this as her mental health deteriorated due to the stresses of her marriage to Scott.  Zelda constantly struggled to be the wife Scott expected while at the same time trying to live her own life.

Fowler mentions in her afterward that some readers side with Scott and others with Zelda. It seemed to me that Scott clearly drove Zelda mad. Had she lived in a more current society; she would have had many noteworthy accomplishments in literature and dance.   After having read Z, I believe her biggest accomplishment was surviving life with F Scott Fitzgerald.

I found Zelda’s story interesting and compelling. Fowler has introduced Zelda Fitzgerald to the reading public who may otherwise have never known her…. myself included. I hope everyone gets a chance to meet Zelda through this wonderful novel.

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