"An utterly engrossing portrayal of Zelda Fitzgerald and the legendary circles in which she moved. In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, Therese Anne Fowler shines a light on Zelda instead of her more famous husband, providing both justice and the voice she struggled to have heard in her lifetime."
"Picture a late-May morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume - same as I would wear that evening...."
Thus begins the story of beautiful, reckless, 17-year-old Zelda Sayre on the day she meets Lieutenant Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald at a country club dance. Fitzgerald isn’t rich or settled; no one knows his people; and he wants, of all things, to be a writer in New York. No matter how wildly in love they may be, Zelda’s father firmly opposes the match. But when Scott finally sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Zelda defies her parents to board a train to New York and marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Life is a sudden whirl of glamour and excitement: Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel - and his beautiful, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, trades in her provincial finery for daring dresses, and plunges into the endless party that welcomes the darlings of the literary world to New York, then Paris and the French Riviera. It is the Jazz Age, when everything seems new and possible - except that dazzling success does not always last.
Surrounded by a thrilling array of magnificent hosts and mercurial geniuses - including Sara and Gerald Murphy, Gertrude Stein, and the great and terrible Ernest Hemingway - Zelda and Scott find the future both grander and stranger than they could have ever imagined.
©2013 Therese Anne Fowler (P)2013 Macmillan
I am not sure how much of the blame to assign to the author, and how much to Scott for this story being so depressing, and at times even infuriating. Long before it ended I wished that Zelda had done as her father bid, and married a nice rich Southern boy, and remained in a town where she was loved and in all her daring and eccentricity still supported and possibly understood.
Although I am familiar with Scott's works, this was my introduction to the Fitzgeralds, and I would not wish to meet them again. I am strongly considering returning the book. I doubt I will read anything written by the author again. It was too fluffy at times, skimming what might be considered common knowledge, and focusing on the gaps as she fills them in with her own imagination, like a lumpy cake with too much icing. It was uneven in my perception due to this, I felt as though I had to Google my way through the book, filling in details.
Ultimately the book was Scott's story, you might hate him after this. What a despicable person in Fowler's hands, and I don't want to waste more time investigating, seeking any clues to the contrary. He and Hemingway made me sick, the doctors made me angry, and Z just made me sad, both the woman and the novel. I regret the purchase.
* * *
Jenna Lamia's narration was fine, although a bit uneven. She starts strong, her pacing and voice thoughtful and evocative, but later on she loses her focus and speeds up, seeming to forget that she's portraying a first person who is Southern and genteel and from an earlier time. It pulled me out of the story a few times. Still, she's one of the best Southern voices I've ever heard in narration, it never felt forced or fake, and this from a Southerner who takes that upper case "S" seriously.
I love books from this era, especially books about real people that have some basis in reality. I'd recommend this book to others. It's an easy listen and entertaining
I've never been excited enough to write a review before but this book was different. The performance by the narrator was exquisite! I couldn't wait to hear more. The book itself was wonderfully and cleverly written but the narration I couldn't get enough of. Bravo! I am so sorry the book ended.
and I mean to use all caps. There are so many times in this novel when I was urging Zelda to leave Scott, or yelling at Scott for holding her back or "changing his mind". what an ass.
I knew it wouldn't end well but still I had hoped. Aside from that I loved the fact that it was essentially a well researched biography wrapped in a novel. Very clever and entertaining.
Avid reader and blogger
No writer should be the same as another, that’s not art.
Marry me, Zelda. We’ll make it all up as we go. What do you say?
What an enjoyable and delicious read! I felt I was right there next to the Fitzgeralds. I danced at their parties, sipped their champagne, inhaled their cigarette smoke, looked over their shoulders as they wrote stories and essays, and took sides when they argued.
The audio did the story and period credit. It opened and closed with a little jazz tune – so atmospheric! The novel did really well in describing the Golden 20s. It’s an interesting time to read about and the Fitzgeralds are brilliant characters – ambitious and wild young people throwing themselves at parties, alcohol and drugs.
It’s a grown-ups’ playground, isn’t it?
It was wonderful getting to know Zelda Fitzgerald, the woman behind the Great Scott Fitzgerald. I loved her as a rebellious teenager, devoted bride in love with her brilliant husband, lonely wife and passionate artist and dancer. I enjoyed Zelda’s take on early feminism -it seemed honest and touching in many ways. She could see sense in feminism, admired these strong and independent women, but had no idea how to become one herself:
I considered how I might become more like the women I respected and admired. Surrounded as I was by ambitious, accomplished women, I couldn’t ignore the little voice in my head that said maybe I was supposed to shed halfway, and do something significant. Contribute something. Accomplish something. Choose. Be.
It’s always a bit difficult to read a novel about the wife of one of your favourite authors, though. I can’t help despising them a bit. Even though it’s part fiction and I don’t really know how much can be trusted, I feel like yelling “You selfish bastard! I’ll never read any of your books again! There!” I felt the same way a few years back when I read The Paris Wife, a story about Hemingway’s wife, Hadley. I love Hemingway’s work, but now he makes me frown! Reading this one didn’t help, as Ernest and Scott’s friendship were a huge part of the story. And both behaved awfully! Bad boys!
I’ve come to wonder whether artists in particular seek out hard times the way flowers turn their faces toward the sun.
But I’m always a sucker for a new story, and reading this one left me with a ton of other books I just HAVE TO READ! Well at least two: Scott’s [book:The Beautiful and Damned|4708] and Zelda’s [book:Save Me the Waltz|150104].
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I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
I liked hearing this story in Zelda's voice so I enjoyed this book. I'm partial to historical novels so this was right up my alley. I have luke warm feelings for the book...I'm glad I listened but am not screaming around town about it.
Zelda and Scott lived.in a society newly created - the Jazz Age. It is hard for us now to understand how fast and furious the Victorian Age dissolved and its mores were shoved aside. They knew everyone in the literary world worth knowing and we get to have a glimpse of them. In addition, this is the story of a marriage, and some interesting facts about concepts of mental health at thar time. I would like to add that I thought the narrator was outstanding. Will look for her reading other books.
While I enjoyed the majority of this book, I doubt I would ever listen again.
The first half of this story was just great! Zelda is a wonderful character who unfortunately, married a complete jerk. "Scott" was such an insecure man. While he ladled her with jewels and furs, it was never out of kindness. Zelda was nothing more than a prop to help boost his self image.
Jenna Lamia was the reason I chose to finish this book. The book is written in the first person. Ms. Lamia's voice was 100% Zelda Fitzgerald. While listening to the voice of a southern debutante could possibly make a listener run away, Ms. Lamia's interpretation was very pleasant and actually inviting.
I would love to spend an afternoon with Zelda. But I cannot imagine dinner with these folks, as I am not one to drink my dinner.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
Zelda falls flat, in my opinion. It reads as if the author took a biography of Zelda (and Scott) and just inserted some voices. It never comes alive. Of course, one wants to compare this to The Paris Wife, however it doesn’t hold up at all. The Paris Wife was alive and this is dead. That’s the only way I can put it.
I only enjoyed it because I am enthralled or interested in that literary period and with the whole Bohemian writer in Paris thing, which includes Scott and Zelda. Learning about the life of the Fitzgeralds was interesting, and the reading was easy and pretty quick, so I did enjoy it for that.
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