There are some books that you love, that you do not want to end, that you savor slowly, that become good friends on your nightstand. This is one of those. I don’t know if I would have wanted Zelda for a real friend, but she had an infectious zest for life, and on the pages of this novel, she became my friend. She was someone I longed to keep revisiting each time I put the book down. Her character was so animated and vivacious and yet so sympathetic and sensitively portrayed, that I wanted the book to continue in spite of how I knew it would end; I wanted Zelda to succeed; I wanted her to find happiness in the face of all the obstacles placed before her, to be indifferent to the times which were not that kind to independent women, nor was the attitude of many chauvinistic men! The author inspired me to truly care about Zelda. She came alive on the pages of this book.
The book opens with a prologue. It is 1940, and like voyeurs we read a letter that Zelda has written to her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, hoping they will see each other soon; both have fallen on hard times, both are trying hard to recover.
In chapter one, we are quickly thrown back into the past. It is 1918, and the book begins in earnest as Fowler skillfully leads us on a journey of discovery. Two icons, both placed on pedestals as much younger versions of themselves, share a passion that is vivid with the author’s skillful use of language.
What a movie this would make! I can see Zelda tripping down the street coupled with the dashing image of F. Scott, as he happily encounters her for the first time! It is kismet and their shared magic begins. It is a great read that will cross the genres, so it will not only wear the cloak of a biographical novel, but will also be a wonderful tale of love, devotion and loyalty in the face of triumph and failure.
Who can fail to love her? The artfully created dialogue captures the spirit and personality of Zelda and her great love, F. Scott, two very unique human beings who literally return to life as we read, growing closer and closer to each other, moment to moment, even as they grow apart, destroying each other. The reader will feel their eagerness, their free thinking joie de vivre, as well as their pain, sadness and disappointment, as though they were one with them, sharing their lives. Unfortunately, the couple’s lust for life left little room for the consideration of consequences, and soon, their decadent lifestyle took its toll on both of them. It would be their undoing.
You can choose your own interpretation of Zelda; there are many: willful, selfish, perhaps a little amoral, even immature, someone who pushed the envelope to the extreme in her quest to get the most out of life. On the other hand, you can choose to see her as the young southern belle, seduced and led astray by this worldly man from the north. For me, I chose the endearing, compassionate view of a multi-talented, appealing, but perhaps abused, often neglected and finally damaged, Zelda.
As “Loving Frank” and “The Paris Wife”, enthralled the reader with the imagined life of Frank Lloyd Wright’s mistress and Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, respectively, this book will capture your heart and mind and open a window into the world of Zelda Fitzgerald and the love of her life, F. Scott.