Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
As a long-time fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, I was long overdue to learn about his life through different eyes. Therese Anne Fowler‘s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was a heartbreaking tale that traced the Fitzgerald’s slow decent into misery as F. Scott chased his white whale: literary fame and respect.
Zelda Fitzgerald‘s life begins with promise. Born to a wealthy family, she defies so many of the social expectations of her day (much to the chagrin of her father and the silent delight of her mother). And it’s her desire to live a big life that brings her to F. Scott, whom she loves, and sweeps her out of home in the South.
It’s when she leaves that her life begins to turn. Ever so slowly, we watch as F. Scott tamps down on Zelda’s desire to write, and dance, and paint by promising her that soon (when he’s rich) she will have everything she needs and wants. And so we watch as Zelda—against her better judgment—follows her husband’s wishes and becomes pained (both physically and psychologically).
Ultimately, the message that any of us can so easily lose who we are—even a fiery spirit like Zelda—if we aren’t careful. (Since my initial attachment was to F. Scott, I also had to watch as my literary hero purposefully, and without self-awareness, did this to Zelda.) Those two ideas—that we can lose ourselves and through our actions we can cause others to lose themselves—haunted me through the last sections of the book.