"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
Say something about yourself!
First of all the writing is just great. Swept into their youth...confidence and insecurity in that swooshing action. I loved this aspect of their story. Yes it has it's tragedy also. It was so well written you could hardly feel it. These are characters you can appreciate. I could understnad why she/they stayed together. Something about that era was just so bi-polar!
I hope you will appreciate this book. I was so thrilled with the narration....I haven't heard that voice since "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt". In my opinion she is the Southern voice. Loved it....hope you do too.
Say something about yourself!
Fowler's story told from Zelda Fitzgerald's first-person perspective is captivating but made even more so by Jenna Lamia's reading. I could not stop listening. I was enchanted by Zelda's "southern gentility" (made perfect by Lamia's interpretation of Zelda) and for the first time sympathized with a typically misunderstood character in the drama that is F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. Zelda's "villianized" character in literary history finds a little redemption in Fowler's story that certainly sympathizes with its female protagonist. As a listener, I was helplessly drawn into the glitz and glamour of the "Jazz Age" as Zelda and Scott must have been -- even as I knew what the ending of the 20's would bring. A convincing, throbbing portrayal of the woman and the times. A must-read, a must-listen!
I never wanted to like a book so much as I wanted to like this one. Every other media I've come across Zelda -- TV, movies, other novels -- she was quite an interesting character. This novel made her seem dull and uninteresting. The story wasn't going anywhere, and I couldn't finish it.
Never say never.
No. Narrator was fine. Accent was perfect.
Not to just any friend, but I would recommend it to someone with interest in Paris, Jazz Age, Fitzgerald and/or Southern Lit. I never saw Zelda's charisma until Hemingway arrives. In fact Zelda's character is only relative to the men she meets.
The Fitzgerald-Hemingway relationship. I realize that it is first person narrative, which is Zelda and she had her sanity issues so you never know how faithful the narrative is, but in the afterward the author seems to exonerate her from this condition. The author's implication that there was more than just friendship between the authors seemed a bit OTT.
Zelda first and Hemingway second. Fitzgerald a distant last.
Zelda- Emma Stone
Hemingway- James Franco
Fitz- Ryan Gosling
Hadley- Mireille Enos
Most of my comments might seem negative, but I looked forward to listening to this novel every day. The author writes very well. The characterizations needed a little bit more attention in my opinion.
Added Audible to my 2 hour commute, consuming books at rapid pace, and rating books based on keeping me engaged and making time fly!
Not a student of the jazz age or even early 20th century literature, I was fascinated by the colorful lives of the many individuals in Zelda's circle, most especially her own and F. Scott. An entertaining blend of history, literature, and the trappings of mental illness, the narration captured the superficial but creative and captivating mind of Zelda Fitzgerald. Makes me want to return to the Great Gatsby and other short stories. Maybe even introduce myself to Ernest Hemingway. Who knew of the intersection between these famous figures?
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 enjoy historical fiction, humor, and biographies. I listen to my Audible books as I drive in my car or on my IPhone.
The story connects you to Zelda Fitzgerald and leaves you wanting to read more even when it ends. I never re-read books however; I can see myself re-reading this one.
I just adored the narrator for this book. She nailed all the characters very well. I am now searching for more of her narrations.
In a year when there is much focus on Scot Fitzgerald and his Gatsby, this alternate view of him from Zelda's perspective enriches the discussion of his legacy. More than that, it provides a delightful experience on its on.
Zelda Fitzgerald is a fascinating person, one who should not be relegated to just a footnote to the life of her husband. Theirs is a tragic story, but an amazing tale of two talented, though less than stable, individuals who shared a love of life and of each other, but who neither had the strength to provide the emotional support the other desperately needed.
The narrator does an excellent portrayal of a south Alabama accent, evoking the time and place without falling into the common trap of overdoing it. Only one slip up in the pronunciation of the name of Zelda's high school, Lanier, named for poet Sidney Lanier and still in existence. Still, overall the performance is excellent, portraying Zelda as both a young and a mature woman, and making her believable in both.
12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!
Without giving details away, I really liked this new telling of Zelda. Instead of being cast as yet again, the crazed selfish enigmatic muse that brings Fitzgerald down- she is in this story a smart, sassy, creative woman WAY ahead of her time. I really enjoyed this audio and have recommended it to many friends. It is very interesting, well written and perfectly narrated.
I liked Zelda and F.Scott's budding romance. It was sweet and charged with lots of chemistry. They were so drawn to each other and as their relationship grew you could see how they fused and how easily they could inflict each other equally with pain or happiness.
no tag line, i think "Z" would do.
Worth the download. And man, Hemmingway is a total douchebag!
Say something about yourself!
This is not a book that I'd characterize as "enjoyable." Athough ti will say, off the bat, it is very well-written, extensively researched, and well narrated.
I've been an ardent fan of both Fitzgeralds (I listen to Tim Robbins' beautiful narration of THE GREAT GATSBY at least once a year) since high school and have read almost everything each has written, including Scott's writer's notebooks. As a youth, I was entranced by the legendary love between Scott and Zelda. As I grew older and learned more, I became less enchanged with these icons of the Jass Age. "Z" pretty much made sure I'd never again hold these people in any kind of esteem--at least as people (as opposed to artists).
"Z" was exhaustively researched and it re-defines the common myth that Zelda was a self-centered, impetuous, mentally ill cyclone who took her husband along with her as she plummeted from Jazz Age darling to insitutionalized failure. This is the myth.
Fowler shows Zelda as the woman she actually was--artistic, beautiful, trend-setting, kind, and absolutely dominated by her pathologically insecure, relentlessly alcoholic husband. "Z" is also a reminder of how lucky I am to be a woman in today's world, as opposed to in Zelda's time, when a flapper could be independent and pursue dreams of her own--until she married, that is.
I now must confess I had a lot of trouble getting through this book, but not because it was poorly written or badly narrated. It was simply depressing. I'd put it down. And then find myself picking it back up, much like the old maxim about a train wreck you can't turn away from.
I was grateful to the author for the opilogue that allowed us to see Zelda find some recognition on her own through her paintings. If you are interested, there are several websites that showcase much of her art and one can see for oneself that she was, indeed, a talented woman.
Scott Fitzgerald comes out of this book as such a sorry human being. Talented, yes. But so driven toward his own place in literary history, he put his own name to short stories written exclusively by his wife. That is just one of the many terrible things he did to Zelda during their marriage. It was so sad to read about this stuff.
He's yet one more example that with great genius, often there comes great neuroses.
I like the fact that the legend of Scott and Zelda is put to rest and the truth is out. I am so glad to see Zelda get a hearing of sorts. I wonder what she might have achieved, had she been born in more liberated times--and had she been allowed to develop her many talents to their fullest.
I listened to Ms. Lamia's performance of THE HELP. Her narration of "Z" compares favorably. She has the Southern accent down pat. And she made me hate, despise, abhor Ernest Hemingway. Which is really saying a lot, if you know how much I love his work.
As mentioned above, I found this a tough book to read, simply because it relentlessly showcases two amazingly gifted people--who disintegrate in slow motion. It's just so sad.
An interesting read, in light of Baz Lurhman's renditio of THE GREAT GATSBY, due in theatres May 10.
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