A Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Zelda Sayre is young, sociable, and hell bent on breaking the rules. A force in her small Alabama hometown, her wild tendencies haven't met a match until she meets a young Army officer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, at a town dance. Z follows the infamous couple from the beginning of their happy lives together, highlighting Scott's height of fame, before exhibiting their final collapse after leading lives of excess. Told from the perspective of Zelda through these trials and tribulations, Z is a refreshing look at this tragic story.
From what I understand, the recapitulation of Zelda and Scott's relationship is quite polarizing. Some believe Zelda and her emotional fits ruined Scott and drained his creativity. Others, however, believe that Zelda was very clever, incredibly yielding, and allowed Scott to repeatedly claim her work as his own. I, for one, have never been one to view a relationship and its success or failure on one individual; clearly, there were issues with both Scott and Zelda. Both appear to have been unable to control their fiery temperaments, which probably didn't mix well with Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's mental instability. This, however, most certainly falls into the camp that sympathizes with Zelda, and obviously so, as it's told from Zelda's perspective of their wonderful honeymoon period and its subsequent decline.
Fowler has a way of evoking the sights and sounds of the glitz and glamour of cities like New York City and Paris in the late 1920s. Smoky dens, loud music, and artists assembled around crowded tables come to life in its pages. While she doesn't necessarily provide vivid descriptions of these scenes, her characters and their actions bring it to life in a way that makes it so much more fascinating.
Fowler admits that she took liberties with some events in the book, which is standard for historical literature, but emphasizes that she was inspired by reading countless letters from the couple to one another, and credible biographies on the two. Overall, it's a well written historical look at a couple that history has long been fascinated with, told by the figure that is often overshadowed but provided just as much color. I can't recommend this one enough; a fun read that is sure to prompt you to learn more about the Fitzgeralds.
I received a copy of Zelda: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. You can expect to see this novel in stores on March 26, 2013.
Read an excerpt, or pre-order a copy.