"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.
The narrator and the author... but that's it.
It made Zelda's Fitzgerald's life boring....
Zelda Sayre was a seventeen-year-old Southern belle when she met Scott in 1918. After Scott sold This Side of Paradise the two married and began the decadent life for which they are now well-known. Known as the quintessential Jazz Age couple, these two did nothing halfway. They partied hard, fought hard, hit rock bottom more than once, and were forever on the move.
The Fitzgeralds are known for their excessive alcohol intake, Scott's writer's block, money problems, and bouts with mental illness. Therese Anne Fowler fleshes out these details and connects them with living, breathing individuals. I found Zelda to be a very sympathetic character in Fowler's hands. I think many women can relate to the conflict between Zelda's desire to make something of herself and the expectations placed upon her by family and society. Scott, for all his contributions to modernist literature, is not particularly modern in his ideas of family life. Fowler also does a nice job conveying the Fitzgerald's codependency. The Fitzgerald's really were a mess. I can definitely understand why Zelda ended up having a breakdown. I feel for everyone who suffered from a mental illness in the past. The reeducation portions of the book, in particular, just sicken me.
I love reading about the other famous folk that Fitzgerald's partied with: The Steins, the Murphys, Picasso and Olga, Ford Maddox Ford, and many more. Ernest Hemingway comes across as a colossal jerk in Z.
Zelda was a talented person in her own right. She published many short stories (though several also include Scott's name on the byline) and a novel, and she was an artist and a ballet dancer.
I loved the audiobook performance. I highly recommend it.
This story is beautifully written and Jenna Lamia's soft Southern accent pours out of her mouth like honey. Therese Anne Fowler has written something so exquisite, that I feel as if I know Zelda Fitzgerald, now. I KNOW her. My heart is completely full.
I've read reviews that complain that it is not accurate, but the author clarifies that this is fiction based on real people. Without giving thought into that, I enjoyed it as a good romance and insight into the life of a very interesting woman in a very interesting age. I enjoyed veru much the reading by Jenna Lamia and I think that definitely contributed to situating my mind on the context and feeling closer to Zelda.
This story grew on me over time. In the beginning it seems too detailed, but the longer I listened to it, the more impressed I became with Zelda's spunk. I hope the real Zelda was as awesome a personality as the historical-fiction version.
This novel, which focuses on the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, began as any typical historical fiction novel, introducing the reader to Zelda and her famous husband to-be, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I often listen to historical fiction when I jog at the gym to make the time pass. Since this novel was fairly standard, I decided it wasn't captivating enough to use as a workout book. So, I listened each night before bed. Eventually I came to realize that what I was reading was a thoughtful, fictionalized portrayal of a woman who was living a life that mirrors that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's as relayed in The Yellow Wallpaper. This 1920-1940s glimpse into fame, love, frustration, and madness was deeply satisfying to read.
When Zelda was young, she viewed the world in an impractical manner, as many young people do. The author captures her transition from young naive girl to confused woman, always trying to navigate social rules, family ties, inner drives and impulses, love, the darkness within herself, and a desire to break free from it all. This book provides a very rich description of the obstacles that stood in her way, some of them self imposed and some of them barbaric external forces.
Zelda's life was inextricably tied to Ernest Hemingway and some other famous people from the 1920s literary, art, music, and feminist scenes. That served as an added bonus to make this novel even more captivating. I will think about this book for a long time to come.
I was really excited to read this, but every time I try I fall asleep. The reader's voice is like a lullaby. I will keep trying, but sleeping kind of gets in the way of being able to really enjoy/review this book.
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