The beauty of a good book is that it makes you want to read more. Or write something. Or both. Therese Anne Fowler’s Z, a fictionalized account of Zelda Fitzgerald’s life, is such a book. You will want to read more about the Fitzgeralds or write a story of your own. Or think, Maybe I should write a novel.
If you’ve read anything by or about F. Scott Fitzgerald (especially The Great Gatsby) or Ernest Hemingway (especially A Moveable Feast, his memoir about his time in Paris, often with the Fitzgeralds; or The Sun Also Rises, a novel which feels like a thinly-disguised memoir), you probably already have some preconceptions about the Fitzgeralds—e.g., her penchant for wild behavior and his penchant for booze. They clearly lived flashy lives, but it’s unclear who derailed whom more. As Ms. Fowler notes in the Acknowledgments, “Where the Fitzgeralds are concerned, there is so much material with so many differing views and biases that I often felt as if I’d been dropping into a raging argument between what I came to call Team Zelda and Team Scott.” This book aims to tell Zelda’s side of the story, and I must say, it comes across as entirely plausible. And it makes me want to read her writing, which was sometimes published as “co-written” with her husband, even though it wasn’t, to garner a bigger paycheck.
Was Zelda an ambitious woman? Yes. A crazy woman? Maybe. Maybe not.
(PS: Many thanks to Molly Wagner for this recommendation!)