Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by Two Roads
12th September 2013
'I wish I could tell everyone who thinks we're ruined. Look closer, and you'll see something extraordinary, mystifying, something real and true. We have never been what we seemed.'
A novel of the woman dubbed 'The First Flapper' - Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, wife and muse to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set against the glamorous backdrop of the Roaring Twenties, Z is the story of the woman who lived large and ached to find her own identity in the shadow of her celebrated husband.
December 20, 1940
The Love of the Last Tycoon is a great title for your novel. What does Max say?
I've been thinking that maybe I'll brave an airplane ride and come to see you for New Year's. Wire me the money, if you can. Won't we be quite the pair? - you with your bad heart, me with my bad head. Together, though, we might have something worthwhile. I'll bring you some of those cheese biscuits you always loved, and you can read me what you've written so far. I know it's going to be a wonderful novel, Scott, your best one yet.
This is short so I can send it before the post office closes today. Write me soon.
If I could fit myself into this mail slot, here, I'd follow my letter all the way to Hollywood, all the way to Scott, right up to the door of our next future. We have always had a next one, after all, and there's no good reason we shouldn't start this one now. If only people could travel as easily as words. Wouldn't that be something? If only we could be so easily revised.
The postmaster comes, keys jingling, to lock up. "How are you, Mrs Sayre?" he says, despite knowing that I've been Mrs. Fitzgerald since 1920. He is full-blood Alabama, Sam is; Sayre from his is Say-yah, whereas I have come to pronounce those trailing soft consonants somewhat, after being away for so long.
I tuck my hands into my sweater's pockets and move toward the door. "I'm just about right as rain, Sam, thanks. I hope you are."
He holds the door for me. "Been worse. Have a good evenin', now."
I've been worse, too. Far worse, and Sam knows this. Everyone in Montgomery knows this. I see them staring at me when I'm at the market or the post office or church. People whisper about how I went crazy, how my brother went crazy, how sad it is to see Judge Sayre's children spoil his legacy. It all comes from the mother's side, they whisper, despite Mama, whose main crime is that she came from Kentucky, being as sound and sensible as any of them - which, now that I think of it, may not be saying much.
Outside, the sun has sunk below the horizon, tired of this day, tired of this year, as ready as I am to start anew. How long before Scott gets my letter? How long 'til I get his reply? I'd buy a plane ticket first thing tomorrow if I could. It's time I took care of him, for a change.
Therese Anne Fowler has written a cracking book about the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. I have to admit, I started this book a long time ago, last year in fact, but have been reading it slowly; letting it linger before finally finishing it last night. Written in the first person, this book takes us from Zelda's first meeting of the man who was to become her husband, right through to his death in 1940. Through those years, we see Zelda go from a young socialite, to the icon of the Roaring Twenties to being incarcerated for suspected schizophrenia.
We follow Scott as a budding author, through his success as The Great Gatsby is published, and then of how his life turns, ironically at about the same time as he meets up-and-coming author Ernest Hemmingway. Once the Fitzgerald's meet Hemmingway, things start to change for all of them, and life is not how it once was. Added into this tale, are the streets of Paris, and trips to Italy and the Riviera, of wild parties, and endless fun - or was it?
Coming swiftly on the back of the re-release of The Great Gatsby film, Fowler has written a fantastic novel about the woman behind the man. Of her struggle to find her own identity and to make a name for herself. I loved this book, especially the beautiful cover, and wholeheartedly recommend it for immersing yourself into the glamorous Flapper Age.