"Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald"

"Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" by Therese Anne Fowler

I'm not sure we really needed another fictional tale about the Fitzgeralds, but there it is. This was my book club's selection and I had looked forward to reading it. I think because his name is connected to it, I was hoping for writing as incandescent as Fitzgerald's, which of course makes no sense at all.

Like everyone else, I'd read a fair bit about them and so had a general idea of their lifestyle and their personal problems. This book adds a lot of detail, but being fiction, it can't truly give anyone a better understanding of their lives.

I've read a lot about Zelda's "madness". In this novel she is diagnosed with schizophrenia and she spends a lot of time in asylums. I'm getting a little tired of hearing how crazy she was, while her husband is simply labeled a misunderstood alcoholic and is lauded for generously putting up with her and paying all her medical bills. They were both unceasingly self-involved, but he treated her like a possession and not a person. She was his property and as such was at his mercy in every area of her life. They both had flaws, but just for a change I'd like to see an author hold him accountable for his. Zelda didn't ruin Scott's life, he was more than capable of doing that all by himself.

For me, all the characters in this story fell sort of flat. It was narrated by Zelda, but I don't feel like we were ever really invited into her inner life to know her. Scott was just ridiculous and Hemingway was a jerk. I know it's fiction, but I still expect a book's characters to touch me in some way. These two have a tragic story. It should have invoked an emotional response, but I was just tired of them by the end of the book, especially him.

I read somewhere that authors are best met inside their books. With the Fitzgeralds, and probably a lot of others, I think that might be good advice.


Nari @ The Novel World said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who felt this way about the novel. It really just made me want to read their individual novels all the more after finishing this book. It just felt a little biased and very much team-Zelda to me.

Ordinary Reader said...

It gave me that urge too. I think I'll stick to what they wrote and stop reading what's written about them.

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