I was hoping a fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life would be a little more salacious and outrageous. But there were only a few anecdotes about her sensational behavior during her flapper days. While the novel does a nice job outlining her life, the best of it was during Scott’s rise to fame and their earliest days of marriage in New York and Paris. (This is the part of the book that made me crave a gin and tonic.) The latter part of the book was really just sad; Zelda and Scott blaming each other for the other’s unhappiness or lack of success. Is it easier to declare an ambitious woman in the 30′s schizophrenic because she doesn’t want to be the domestic wife-y that her alcoholic husband demands?
I enjoyed the hostility and friction that Hemingway’s entrance onto the literary scene creates. No sooner does Hemingway become Scott’s obsession that rumors start flying about the, ahem, nature of their relationship. Zelda not only blames Hemingway for being a bad influence on his mentor, but for the lackluster response to The Great Gatsby and Scott’s failure at productivity. (And of course the irony that Gatsby would be his most iconic work). I think the author did a nice job conveying Zelda in her entirety, not just for her most notorious conduct. She was a complex individual who was portrayed a certain way in the press, and that negativity outlasted the woman herself. So if you’re curious, I suggest you grab a drink before diving into this one.
I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.
Other recommended novels about the wives of famous men during the same period: