Saturday, November 16, 2013

Review - Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald can certainly be viewed as one of life's tragic characters, coming of age in the post-war period of the 1920's, under the spell of the rakish F.Scott Fitzgerald, with booze and fun aplenty, and without quite enough backbone to acknowledge how tragic her life was becoming or wanting enough to do anything about it.

Fowler's fictional portrayal of her is certainly kinder than real life probably was.  And this is the reason that reviewing this book is so difficult.  If one has read any biographies of the principle characters (F.Scott, Zelda, Hemingway-both Ernest and Hadley), it is difficult to find oneself, as a reader of fiction, having as much sympathy for the character painted here as the author does.

Zelda is depicted as a good time girl whose passion is ballet (although she studied as a young girl it is hard to believe that she suddenly decided as a married woman in her late 20's to pursue this as a career).  I wondered the whole time I was reading about her dancing antics if the underlying motivation wasn't just a way of thumbing her nose at her husband's wanting her to stay focused on HIS career.

The travel scenes of Paris, Italy, Hollywood and Florida are quite similar to what we see in any bios of the players.  It was an OK read, fun if you've not read anything about the lady, but the caveat to any reader is that IT'S FICTION and it's hard to separate what might be fact from fairy tale.  It's well written, and certainly exhibits a very sympathetic view of Ms. Fitzgerald.  I just couldn't get excited about Zelda's life from reading it here.  I'd be interested to see if Ms. Fowler can write some fiction without having to center it on real life.  She writes well, and I'd love to see what else she can do.

Title:  Z:A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Author: Therese Anne Fowler 
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (2013),  Hardcover, 384 pages 
Genre: Historicial biographical fiction
Subject: Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald
Setting: all over the world
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book now? It's was a long list nominee for the Maine Reader's Choice award.


  1. Tina, This was a very helpful review. I am a fan of the Old Hollywood scene--so I am an easy target for books like this. I have read about 50 pages into Z, I will certainly keep your "FICTION comment" in mind as I finish the book.

  2. I read a biography of her when I was still in college, and it was quite, quite wonderful. It is by Nancy Milford, and is still available. I should pick it up again.


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