Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald; Therese
St. Martin's Press - 2013
My book group met this week to discuss Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and almost everyone enjoyed it.
I think many readers are somewhat familiar with Zelda's story, a Southern Belle who meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a dance in 1918 when she was only seventeen. She sees him as exotic, exciting and desirable. Her father is against the marriage as he isn't a Southerner and doesn't come from a prominent family or have money. He assures Zelda that his writing will bring them fame and money.
Although their Jazz Era life style is exciting and a series of travels and endless parties, their marriage is in trouble early on. Both drink too much and Scott is a mean drunk. He's physically and verbally abusive and, he has a way of crushing Zelda's every dream: actress, dancer, artist and writer. If that's not bad enough he's a womanizer and hadn't been very successful as a writer so the couple is always broke.
When Zelda needs to stop drinking for health reasons she busies herself in ballet and writing but, her marriage starts to crumble and Scott needs new drinking buddies. Zelda definitely exhibits some form of mental illness (our group differed on whether she suffered from bipolar or schizophrenia) and whether Scott was the major cause of her breakdowns or whether she was victim of society during that time -- her ambitions stifled.
The story is told from Zelda's POV mostly from the time the couple met until the end of their relationship. Despite their love for one another they were disastrous for one another. Scott had a huge ego and was terribly insecure and his behavior at times seemed to worsen Zelda's mental health issues. I felt for Zelda at times, I thought her judgement was so much keener than Scott's yet she differed to her husband as women at that time were expected to do.
The author does a great job of capturing Zelda's voice -- both at the high and low points of her life. Zelda was intelligent but, she was a woman born generations too early when ambition in women was not seen as a favorable trait. Although a work of fiction, I thought this book served as a very good intro to Zelda and Scott lives.
QUOTE I liked --"Single women could work all they wanted; married women locked themselves into a gilded cage. All of that seemed natural before. Now it made me angry. Now I saw how a woman might sometimes want to steer her own course rather than trail her husband like a favored dog."