Young, beautiful, passionate Zelda Fitzgerald was only seventeen years old when she first met the great American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. But he wasn’t the great American writer then; he was a young man freshly out of Princeton with big dreams and big plans to whisk her away.
Despite Zelda’s parents and friends’ concerns that the pair were not good for each other, Zelda ran away to New York to becomes Mrs. F.Scott Fitzgerald and began her life as a 1920s socialite.
As Scott’s work gained prominence, Zelda and Scott became celebrities overnight, as a couple who were revered by the American public. Glorified as the golden couple in the public’s eye, Zelda and Scott’s relationship was far from perfect. Despite the strain in their relationship, they lived a colourful life that was filled with as much passion, extravagance, and vitality as the characters Scott wrote about.
Trying to describe this book is quite difficult. In the hands of Therese Anne Fowler, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald are characters, but they were still real people who lived and loved in an era that was colourful and brilliant. What’s more, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were both authors (although Zelda’s work was lesser known), and it’s interesting to imagine an author, someone who’s work you have read and studied, become a larger-than-life character in a novel. It was fascinating.
I absolutely adored this book. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I got in, I couldn’t let go of the characters and wanted to know about the life they had led.
Fowler is a great writer; it must have been a daunting task to put to paper two of America’s literary celebrities. The setting was described so clearly that I felt like I was right there in the twenties with the characters, dancing at the jazz bars they danced at, strolling the streets of Paris they strolled on, and mingling with other literary celebrities they mingled with.
Zelda and Scott’s relationship was a fascinating one. Zelda and Scott were young and fearless and passionate when they first met, and this passion took them to heights they never imagined they could travel to. Scott was the writer, but Zelda helped him develop those ideas, critiquing his work and helping him choose titles for some of his most iconic work. Together, they seemed unbeatable.
Yet, there were also problems in their relationships. Their extravagant lifestyle, which was once so beloved to both of them, caused a strain in their relationship, as it often forced them to pretend to be people that weren’t themselves. As the years bore on, their relationship lost the sparkle it had once had, yet for reasons unknown, both Zelda and Scott were unable to end it. Together they were a mess, and apart they were also a mess.
Zelda herself was a fascinating character to read about. Caught between her own desires and goals and Scott’s, she comes to a point later in her life when she wants to live for herself. But given the period of time in which she’s living in, Zelda is unable to live life on her own terms; she’s bound by Scott’s whims and fancies, and she struggles a lot with this.
I went into this novel without knowing the fate of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. I didn’t know how or when their story ended, and I think not knowing this made the book even more enjoyable for me. If you don’t know anything about Zelda and Scott Fitzergald’s story, and are interested in reading this book, don’t do any research before reading this. Just dive in!
Heartbreaking and tragic, Z was an absolute pleasure to read. It haunted me after I can closed the book and set it aside for my next read, as Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald’s mournful gazes seem to permeate through the past and into the present. Unforgettable and unapologetic, they were a dazzling couple who continue to shine even after they are long gone.
So for that, 4.5/5.
Thanks for reading,