Book Review: Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

April 4, 2013 book review, Flapper, historical fiction, Jazz, Therese Fowler, Zelda Fitzgerald 2

Written by: Therese Anne Fowler

Published by: St. Martin’s Press March 26, 2013

Length: 384 pages

Source: Publisher

Zelda Sayre was just seventeen years old when she met a young Lieutenant F. Scott Fitzgerald.  She born and raised in Montgomery Alabama, and he stationed at a military base near there.  He first saw her dancing, and with his suave Ivy League ways he swept her off her feet.  He told her he was a writer, a novelist and how he intended to make his living.  Her father is unimpressed. By the time she was eighteen Scott has had his first book published and she was traveling by train to New York City, rushing to meet Scott and to be married.  

So began their life of glamor, parties and living the high life. It seemed everyone wanted to be seen with Scott and his even more flamboyant wife Zelda.  She’s been called the original flapper, bobbing her hair and wearing audacious clothing.  Living in New York, Paris, and other romantic locations. Zelda kept Scott somewhat grounded, supporting him emotionally, trying to keep him working.  She loved the party life, but ultimately she loved Scott.  Their only daughter came along and she was truly daddy’s little girl.  Scottie was raised by nannies mostly, also moved all over Europe and back and forth around the States.  Zelda’s life with Scott changed and evolved, and in the end she was no longer the life of the party, but suffering from mental illness and perhaps demons we’ll never know.

I anxiously awaited the publication of this book, I’m a huge fan of Therese Fowler and she has been discussing this work for quite some time.  My limited knowledge of Zelda Fitzgerald didn’t deter me one bit, as I began to read, I also looked for more information online…I can’t imagine the detailed research Therese must have done to write this novel.  While historically correct in many facts, the details are fiction and yes such lovely artists privilege.  I was taken back to the 1920’s to the music and the clothing, the raw decadence shown by the privileged class that Scott and Zelda were a part of.  I was saddened by the sort of dreamer and social climber that Scott was, and yet Zelda seemed to love him and happily was along for the ride.  Naturally it took a sad toll on her.  The friendship and competitiveness between Scott and Hemingway was well written, Zelda clearly had no love for him, or his dalliances. Zelda’s steady decline saddened me, and while not news the telling of her perishing in a fire was tragic. Historically Zelda was often portrayed and crazy and as a liability to Scott, what Fowler has done is given a fresh look at Zelda’s role in their marriage, and the hopes and dreams she had for herself. 

Z is the kind of book you savor and share, a book that makes you close your eyes and let yourself be swept up in it.  I enjoyed it VERY MUCH!  I’ve given this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I recommend it to all who enjoy historical fiction, and even if you haven’t before, you should definitely read this one….it may change your mind. You can follow Therese Anne Fowler on facebook and twitter and visit her website to learn more. Big News!! Z is #10 on the New York Times Best Seller List.  I just caught a few blurbs of this online last night, so very excited for Z and Therese Fowler. 

Thank you St. Martin’s Press and Therese for the advanced copy. 

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