Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

I think my new favorite genre should be fictionalized biographies.  I have been loving the assortment of these that have been published in the past few years. And the two out in 2013 have just increased my obsession with these books.
The latest I've read, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, was a wonderful look at F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife.  In high school (which is seeming rather far away in my mind and therefore I can't quite recall all the details)I read The Great Gatsby and followed that at some point with Zelda by Nancy Milford.  Although the details are a bit sketchy, I had the sense that the Fitzgerald's marriage was tumultuous and their lives tormented despite their success.

Fowler conducted a great deal of research in the writing of this novel.  Although this is fictionalized, a large part is based on fact.  My limited knowledge of the Fitzgeralds left me guessing a bit about which was which, yet I was totally mesmerized by their story, adn readers won't need any prior knowledge to enjoy Z.

The Fitzgeralds were at one point a very successful pair.  Between F. Scott's writing and Zelda's contributions as a dancer, writer, and artist, they appeared to have it all. Yet, F. Scott's alcoholism and Zelda's various stomach ailments and mental illness created great challenges for them. They rubbed elbows with the elite in America, and spent a portion of their professional lives in France as F. Scott tried to finish his novels. 

While there Ernest Hemingway and Fitzgerald forged a great friendship, despite Zelda's and Hemingway's distate for each other. Having read The Paris Wife (by Paula McLain) which covers the life of Hadley Heminway, Ernest's first wife, I was intrigued to see this couple ficionalized in another book.  I loved seeing how these relationships played out in Fowler's depiction of them.

I could just be content with Fowler's depiction of the Fitzgeralds, yet reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald has created a desire to re-read Nancy Milford's biography and perhaps gain a greater understanding of this dynamic duo.  This is a book I will be recommending to friends, book clubs, and generally anyone else I can get to take my suggestions.

Other read-alikes:
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin - click for review
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - click for review
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I am anxious to read this one as well. Love the sound of it.

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

I'm obsessed with these "wives" books...but am annoyed at the titles "wife of..." they are only qualified in terms of their relationship to a man. Makes me like Z that much more.