I’ve always been fascinated by The Jazz Age, so when I picked up this book at midnight in a bookstore in DC, I was instantly enthralled. Z was utterly enjoyable to read, even when the choices made by the characters were frustrating and self-destructive. I finished the book in a little over two weeks. Every time I sat down to read, I struggled to put the book down.
The novel follows Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald from when she’s 17 (and meets F. Scott Fitzgerald) through her life until the death of Scott. It embodies the tumultuous Jazz Age and the members of The Lost Generation. It’s exciting, it’s frustrating, it’s romantic, it’s filled with angst, alcohol, and affairs. It shows just how paradoxical life can be.
The genre of this novel is ‘biographical fiction,’ meaning that the author, Therese Anne Fowler, took all of the known facts about the Fitzgeralds and filled in the blanks. For example, Ms. Fowler points out that one moment Ernest Hemingway and Zelda got along just fine and then something happened (no one knows what) and they were disdainful and resentful towards each other from that time forward. Ms. Fowler puts her interpretation into the novel, given all the facts that she knows for sure and assuming that her idea may be the most plausible. To find out what she thinks caused Ernest and Zelda to hold one another in such low regard, you’ll have to read the novel yourself.
It was beautifully written, too. Ms. Fowler gave a voice to a controversial and widely-unkown woman and made Zelda seem well-rounded and completely human. A lot of the things we do know about Zelda have been manipulated over time to not show the full picture. I believe this novel, though it’s fiction, helps show how the facts may have been manipulated.
I laughed out loud sometimes, I cried towards the end. My heart ached with Zelda’s and it was overjoyed with hers, too. Zelda’s Southern drawl was also put into the novel, which I enjoyed after living in the not-so-deep South for a few months.
Five Stars. I highly recommend it. It’s entertaining and informational.