Before F. Scott Fitzgerald was a literary darling, before he’d even begun to imagine The Great Gatsby or Benjamin Button, he was a young WWI army lieutenant who fell hard for a spirited Southern belle named Zelda Sayre. The life he and Zelda would lead together in New York, Long Island, Paris, Hollywood and the French Riviera made them legends, even in their own time. Set amidst the glamour of the Jazz Age and The Lost Generation’s vivid world abroad, ‘Z’ vividly brings Zelda and Scott’s romantic, tumultuous, extraordinary journey to life.
I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920s and intrigued by the Fitzgeralds in particular, but this was a the first piece of writing I’ve every picked up related to them (other than, like everyone else, The Great Gatsby). I snagged this book on Audible last May and well, here we are.
I loved it.
I want to start with the narrator. In many of my reviews, the narrator is a last-minute thought. Not here. Jenna Lamia is excellent. Her reading is smooth and rich. Her accents shift beautifully. There is a smattering of French in this book: her pronunciation is flawless and flows. I cannot praise her reading enough. I think that even if I found this book boring, she would have made it interesting. Incidentally, she was also one of the narrators on The Help and she’s the reader for The Secret Life of Bees, so I’m thrilled to have more books done by her already sitting in my library .
On to the story itself:
Zelda is often characterized in popular culture as the ultimate wildchild. She was a wanton alcoholic, a scandalous dancer, and a frivolous girl. This story, although ultimately fiction, makes me put all that into question. Who, really, was Zelda Fitzgerald? Fowler’s story gives her two legs to stand on beside Scott, rather than being swept alongside his crazy river.
Fowler transitions so smoothly from a dreamy teenager to an overwhelmed young adult to a troubled and abandoned wife (Zelda’s hated word). It shows the bad in Zelda – her drinking and jealousy and self-destruction. But it also shows the good in her – passion, love, artistry.
I loved it. The writing was beautiful, Zelda was vivacious even at her worst. All the stars.
Series: n/a / Publisher: MacMillan Audio / Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical / Format: Digital Audiobook / Runtime: 12 hours, 36 minutes / Released: 2013
zelda fitzgerald / f. scott fitzgerald / author’s spouses / authors / 1920s