This month’s book may be late but it is well worth your attention. Therese Anne Fowler has written a novel on Zelda Fitzgerald. It covers shortly before her 18th birthday to F. Scott’s death in 1940 and slightly beyond.
It details their wartime courtship, quiet New York City wedding, and subsequent move to Long Island, whose lavish parties and extravagant lifestyle inspired Great Gatsby. In a search for quiet life, the couple moved to Paris where Scott became involved with a new set including Hemingway. It provides another side to the Hemingway/Fitzgerald friendship which has made me rethink Hemingway as an author. I knew there was a reason for his macho-man persona!
Zelda’s mental problems naturally make up a part of the storyline. Frankly, they seem as much Scott’s problem as anything which is wrong with her. True, she is feisty and a little wild, but she is nothing compared to today’s socialites and reality TV stars. I couldn’t help but wonder if she would have been happier if she lived nowadays, without Scott’s constant desire to provide for her and to prevent her from excelling in anything she would like to do.
Zelda’s writing was published under Scott’s name, her ballet career was halted, and her painting restricted, at least in the story. I don’t know how accurate a text it is, but I don’t really care. I found the book enthralling and really beautiful. So often the picture that we have a Zelda Fitzgerald is a partial one. Hemingway’s vicious characterization in A Moveable Feast. Scott’s skewed portrait in Tender is the Night. The wild and lost Zelda of the film Midnight in Paris.
Finally, Zelda is given her own voice. And, boy, does she have a story to tell.