It’s time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today’s book is Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.
The roaring ’20s. Even that name itself blazes with intensity. One of the foremost power couples of that era were the Fitzgeralds- F. Scott and Zelda. Known for being a southern belle and her flapper lifestyle in New York, Zelda is told through a new gaze. Therese Anne Fowler has crafted a compelling story that makes the case (based on much historical research and some supposition) that Zelda ought to shine in our memories for many more reasons than what she’s known for.
One of the most common labels Zelda receives is the diminishing and harmful label of “crazy”. For more on this fascinating topic, see this article on if Zelda really were crazy and this one on “gaslighting” in general.
Although much debate still continues on the specifics of the Fitzgeralds, the literary Zelda in Z is interesting, sympathetic, and talented. Time and again, she tries her hand at writing, painting, ballet and the reader is led to believe that she could really succeed- if only given the chance. The problem is F. Scott keeps cutting off her chances. Even as a wife and mother, Zelda’s potential is cut short by F. Scott. Isolating her from daughter Scottie and even renaming her from Patricia, that the couple had agreed would be her name before Frances Scott Fitzgerald was born, show the lengths that F. Scott went to in order to maintain his control over Zelda. She was to be shown-off and he relied on her for this. Also, though, at least according to Fowler, F. Scott owed much to Zelda in terms of his writing. Whole portions of her diaries were lifted to go into F. Scott’s novels and some of Zelda’s short stories were published under F. Scott’s name.
This book is also fascinating because of the locations that the Fitzgeralds live in- the old south of Alabama (where Zelda’s parents even lived through the Civil War as children!), New York City, France, Italy and Switzerland to name a few. There are also a host of characters, with familiar names, who populate the pages: Tallulah Bankhead, Hemingway, Picasso, Ezra Pound, and Dorothy Parker among many others.
Art and literature are examined in this story, as well as the emergence of feminism, the ties that bind people together (even perhaps when they ought to be severed) and the pursuit of ambition. This is a really interesting book!
My best to you all,