Thursday, April 04, 2013
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin's Press - Historical Fiction/Fictional Biography
Source: ARC sent by my delightful friend, Paula
What's it about?
Z is a novel in which the author tried to imagine and portray how Zelda Fitzgerald may have felt during her courtship and marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald.
What I liked about Z:
I thought Therese Fowler did a phenomenal job of presenting Zelda as a lively, accomplished individual with surprising strength of character. Her mental illness and the treatment that likely caused her worse trouble rather than being curative is very nicely described (and made me burn with anger). I came out of the reading with an unexpected admiration for Zelda. She's been much maligned as "crazy" and blamed for her husband's decreasing productivity, but Z makes it clear the opposite was likely true. She was far from perfect but Scott Fitzgerald definitely came off as an alcoholic blamer in denial.
I've always been fascinated by the expatriate crowd of the 1920s and Z definitely makes me want to read more. I also appreciated the fact that Z didn't focus exclusively on the negative. A lot of the recent historical fiction titles I've read have been painfully melancholy in tone, which I abhor. I thought Z contained a nice balance of the good and bad times and Zelda and Scott's emotional reactions. Scott and Zelda were a tragic pair, but Therese Fowler gave Zelda back her humanity, in my humble opinion.
What I disliked about Z:
I'm perplexed by the author's choice to fabricate letters when she clearly states in her notes that she had access to the real thing. Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald apparently left a wealth of correspondence to each other and to friends. I understand that the book is fiction, but I think when fiction involves characters who really lived and breathed, it's best to incorporate as much of reality as possible.
Highly recommended - A very nicely balanced account of the tumultuous life of a famous couple from the more maligned woman's point of view. In spite of the fact that I strongly dislike the use of fictionalized letters, I think Z is one of the best fictional biographies that I've read in quite a while.
So this is the new easy format:
I've made some minor changes to my old easy-review format, but this is what I'm going to stick with, for now. I added the "source" of the book because I often forget to note whether a book is an ARC from a publisher, a book received from a friend, a library check-out (rare -- still don't have a library card for my new county) or from my personal library.
Pic of the day:
I made it my goal, one day, to try to capture a photo with both a European bee (the most productive cross-pollinators and honey producers) and one of those whopping big bees that we normally see. We have hardly seen any European honeybees since a big die-off in 2005, but this year we have plenty. I think there must be a local beekeeper, nearby. The small bee at lower right is the European. I don't know what the inch-long fellow in the flowers at top left is called. Anyway, I had fun shooting and am thrilled to see European bees, since mass die-offs have become a regular event. This tree was actually so full of bees, last week, it sounded like the tree was humming.
The Clover House by Henriette Power and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - a new edition illustrated by Michael Sieber. Almost done with The Clover House. Oz is fun and surprisingly lacking in menace by comparison with the movie, thus far. I love the fact that this edition contains an introductory note by the author explaining why it was time for a new kind of fairy tale as "modern education includes morality." Boy, times do change. Modern education apparently is about to include armed teachers, where I live. Ask my former-teacher son what he thinks about arming "the most stressed-out group of people" he's encountered and you'll get an earful.
Book stack photos forthcoming:
I tend to use natural light and we've been low on that, due to a stormy week. I'll snap photos of my gigantic stack of recent arrivals when the sun comes out, 'kay?
I've been organizing my ARCs by month of release so a couple might disappear due to organizational imperative, but you'll obviously hear about them soon enough.
What wonderful books have you read, lately?
My husband would prefer that you to not tell me. :)
©2013 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email email@example.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.
Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
I loved The Paris Wife, so have requested Z from my library. I see it is on order, but I'll be first!ReplyDelete
It's too bad about the made up letters. Sometimes fictional biographies can bother me like that (The Colony of Unrequited Dreams), and other times I love them (American Wife). I haven't figured out what it is that causes me problems.
I loved The Paris Wife, too, although it did have that tinge of melancholy that I dislike. I think the reason I loved it so much had to do with the fact that I'd just read A Moveable Feast and wanted to fill in the blanks a bit. I really liked Z. I'm sure you'll like it if you liked The Paris Wife.Delete
Yeah, the fictional letters . . . that just doesn't sit well with me but I know what you mean about those things that sometimes bother you in one book but not in another. I think it has to do with the writing style, at least for me.
I'm very interested in reading Z, I've heard some good things :)ReplyDelete
Z has gotten a lot of positive buzz and I honestly think it deserves it. I feel really privileged to have gotten my mitts on an ARC so quickly.Delete
Zelda has always interested me. I read a biography many years ago and was fascinated by both Fitzgeralds, despite the sadness. Will keep this one in mind. Nice cover, too!ReplyDelete
I hope you do read Z, Jenclair. Zelda is definitely fascinating to read about. She may have had a mental illness, but I don't think she deserved the negative generalizations that have floated around for so long.Delete
I'm really excited about this book and need to get my hands on it!ReplyDelete
It's a good one, Kathy. I hope you get your mitts on a copy, soon!Delete
This is a great book to read just as The Great Gatsby is about to be released. I'm kind of a Fitzgerald nut.ReplyDelete
It's definitely great timing. I'm looking forward to the movie. It's good to be a Fitzgerald nut; so many gems to be mined from a single book of his.Delete
Yeah I'd be interested in reading some of the real letters between Z & Fitz which could be fascinating. I heard this author talk about Z on NPR -- seems a bit interesting. thx cheersReplyDelete
I would, too. I personally thought the author's "this is fiction" reasoning for fictionalizing letters was lame. My opinion. :) They were such interesting people; I'd love to read some of the Fitzgeralds' letters.Delete
So glad you liked it Nancy. Did you ever see Midnight In Paris with Owen Wilson?ReplyDelete
Yes and I loved it! I thought Zelda was pretty believable and Hemingway was a hoot!Delete
I really want to read this. I think I might go the audiobook route. :)ReplyDelete
Everyone wants to read Z! It's a good book and it's piqued my interest. I think maybe I'll try (again) to read The Great Gatsby, next.Delete