Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

I would like to start by saying that I haven’t written a book review since I was in school, and the reviews I did then were because I had to, which is a very different thing from reading a book and writing a review for my own enjoyment.

As the wife of F Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ and other novels and short stories, Zelda Fitzgerald was a Southern Belle who became a celebrity when her husband’s works became popular during the 1920’s.

Zelda was a dancer and a writer, a daughter, sister, mother and friend. Her husband called her ‘The First American Flapper’. As a couple, they scandalised society, drank too much alcohol and appeared to be having loads of fun, particularly in the early stages of their marriage. On the down side, their finances were unstable and they frequently moved, partly to try and resist the temptations which Fitzgerald believed were undermining his productivity. Everywhere they moved, temptations continued to find then, particularly Fitzgerald, and their marriage became more and more unhappy. Zelda developed a mental illness and later died in a fire in a metal hospital.  

I enjoyed ‘Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald’ by Therese Anne Fowler. I day hangovers and purposeless outings with people I’ve long forgotten”.

I also enjoyed the name dropping of their friends, many of whom were famous writers and artists of the time.

However, I didn’t really believe Zelda’s character as portrayed by Fowler. In this book, Zelda was always supportive of her husband, always bright and chirpy, regardless of the upheavals of constantly moving, her husband’s drinking, their money problems or their marriage problems. Maybe Zelda never complained in her letters or journals, but I don’t believe that the little voice in her head was always cheerful. Also, there were no hints in Zelda’s narration that she was becoming mentally unstable, although early in the book we are told that people say that she is crazy, and so was her brother, and that the craziness comes from her mother’s side.

Sometime in the future I plan to read Zelda’s novel, ‘Save Me the Waltz’ and Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘Tender is the Night,’ as both are said to be semi-autobiographical accounts of their marriage, which should be an interesting comparison of their marriage in their own voices.