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Publisher's Summary

THE INSPIRATION FOR THE TELEVISION DRAMA Z: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING

"When I saw that Amazon Prime was unveiling its original pilot for Z, a biographical series based on Therese Anne Fowler's novel about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, I raised a wary eyebrow. . . But I was wrong, oh me of little faith. . . [I]t's an enveloping period piece, perfectly cast, and I would like to see the pilot green-lighted into a series so that we can see this romance go up like a rocket with one loud champagne pop and strew debris across mansion lawns and luxury hotel lobbies in its transcontinental path." —Vanity Fair

I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we're ruined, Look closer…and you'll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the "ungettable" Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn't wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner's, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick's Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby's parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott's, too? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda's irresistible story as she herself might have told it.

©2013 Therese Anne Fowler (P)2013 Macmillan

What members say

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  • LP
  • Santa Clara, CA, United States
  • 04-01-13

Attraction to the disillusioning 20's comes alive!

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!

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Great! From the first page to the last.....

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.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Andrew
  • Northport, AL, United States
  • 04-17-13

Could have been so much more.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

What was most disappointing about Therese Anne Fowler’s story?

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.

Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia – was your favorite?

Zelda first and Hemingway second. Fitzgerald a distant last.

Could you see Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Zelda- Emma Stone<br/>Hemingway- James Franco<br/>Fitz- Ryan Gosling<br/>Hadley- Mireille Enos

Any additional comments?

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Illuminating...and Depressing

What made the experience of listening to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald the most enjoyable?

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.<br/><br/>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).<br/><br/>"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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>He's yet one more example that with great genius, often there comes great neuroses.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Have you listened to any of Jenna Lamia’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

An interesting read, in light of Baz Lurhman's renditio of THE GREAT GATSBY, due in theatres May 10.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Dell
  • FRUITLAND PARK, FL, United States
  • 04-22-13

Awesome Read!!!

What made the experience of listening to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald the most enjoyable?

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.

What does Jenna Lamia bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I just adored the narrator for this book. She nailed all the characters very well. I am now searching for more of her narrations.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Historical fiction at its best!

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Loved, loved , loved

Would you consider the audio edition of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald to be better than the print version?

The narrator's voice was so rich and layered and brought to life this novel in ways I certainly wouldn't have been able to myself. This is a MUST in audio format.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald?

I have too many! I'm heartbroken it is over and my time with Zelda is finished. I may re-listen to this book. It is so rich and beautifully done, it's like a decadent chocolate for your ears and imagination. I would say my most enjoyed moments were of their love affair in the beginning when everything is promising and fresh.

What about Jenna Lamia’s performance did you like?

It was beyond amazing. She WAS Zelda. I enjoyed her narration so much I want to seek out her other work, but I'm afraid I might miss Zelda and get confused.

If you could rename Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, what would you call it?

I wouldn't change it.<br/>

Any additional comments?

I hate to hype a book because I hate to give other readers expectations, but I can't gush about this book enough. It may be one of my all time favorites now. The writing was just breathtaking and gorgeous. You could lose focus of the narrative and over arcing storyline and just get lost in the imagery and sentence structures. I can see myself buying the print version and taking a highlighter to it. For a book about literary masters, it feels a masterpiece in and of itself. I deeply enjoyed my time with this book and every time the narrator announced a new chapter a little voice in my head would go "no!" it felt like a countdown against a ticking bomb, I didn't want it to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Multitalented Woman

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Jazz Age story English classes never told

A wonderfully written story showing a complex, dimensional view of Zelda my classes never shared

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extraordinary extraordinary extraordinary

What an amazing book. Absolutely fascinating beautifully written and beautifully narrated by Jenna Lamia. I never wanted to leave this story, but was caught in the river so to speak. Devastating, beautiful I don't even know what to say. Absolutely extraordinary

1 of 1 people found this review helpful