Friday, May 17, 2013

Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

I haven't updated my read-a-thon progress at all this week because I knew I wouldn't get very far, very fast! End of the school year, things are winding down, but still busy. At least I did finish the book  I started with, titled Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, so I figured I'd just write a review for it here as my update. A definite must read for any Fitzgerald fan.

If you have a general knowledge of stories about Scott and Zelda, you know that Zelda is often painted as the (literally) crazy wife who refused to marry Scott until he was a published author. And although they both liked to party, it always seems Scott comes out the gentleman in most stories I've heard. So I went into the reading expecting to become more enamored of Scott and find all the craziness behind Zelda explained. I've yet to be enamored and find Zelda's biggest error that she married Fitzgerald at all.

Author Therese Anne Fowler did extensive research while writing this fictionalized account of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's lives together, so although the dialogue and some scenes are imagined as it might have happened, the thoughts, people, places, and situations discussed are widely supported by diaries and letters between the Fitzgeralds and others, as well as writings about them at the time. (These writings were also used in the making of the new Gatsby movie.)

At first the party life is exciting and new to Scott and Zelda, but much like his Gatsby, Scott's will to party is the means to an end. While Jay Gatsby is ultimately searching for the love of Daisy Buchanan, Scott Fitzgerald longs to be somebody, and maybe even everything, to everybody. Every piece of success wears off quickly as he feels the urge to become bigger and better. At the top of his game, Fitzgerald takes new writers under his wing, giving guidance on everything from writing to life. Among his circle is Ernest Hemingway, a most detestable man if ever there was one (if Zelda's observations are to be trusted). Hemingway's portrayals of the Fitzgeralds in his memoir A Moveable Feast are among the most lasting and popularly believed, although when put next to biographers' research prove to be half truths, if that.

I won't say too much more, so as not to spoil the incredulousness the book will bring as you read, but be forewarned, right when you think Fitzgerald can't disappoint you more, he will. It is truly a time period and state of mind to make most any woman a feminist, even if only at the moment. I apologize to Zelda's memory for every bad thing I ever assumed about her. 

Fitzgerald's life, and by association Zelda's, a true and very sad testament to the famous last line of The Great Gatsby, which is also an engraving that sits at the Fitzgeralds' graves: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


  1. I loved this book! I'm a bit biased, though, because Fitzgerald is in my family tree so I have a soft spot for him despite the stories :-D

    1. Yes, I did too! It's a must read for people who love his writing or even teach it! Your review after reading it on NetGalley was how I found out about NetGalley! I had preordered "Z" from Amazon and had to wait a month for it and you had read it! I was so jealous! And I love NetGalley.

      (And really, if Fitzerald was in my family tree, I'd be bragging it up big time!) I was just really surprised at how backwards all the popular literary stories about the couple are.

  2. Interesting. I have always heard mostly negative things about Zelda. I'll have to add Z to my TBR list.

    1. Same here. The book was truly eye opening.