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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
This is the fictional story of Zelda Fitzgerald's life, as she looks back on her girlhood in Alabama, her meeting with husband F. Scott Fitzgerald and the early excitement of their marriage - which descends into resentment, alcohol abuse and recriminations. I have always loved F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels and, as this story is told from Zelda's viewpoint, it presents an...
Published 22 months ago by S Riaz

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but Paris Wife better
Enjoyable, but cannot help comparing it to Paris Wife which is head and shoulders better. I really got into it by the end though, Zelda' s story will stay with me.
Published 13 months ago by L. M. Culligan


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, 6 Feb 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This is the fictional story of Zelda Fitzgerald's life, as she looks back on her girlhood in Alabama, her meeting with husband F. Scott Fitzgerald and the early excitement of their marriage - which descends into resentment, alcohol abuse and recriminations. I have always loved F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels and, as this story is told from Zelda's viewpoint, it presents an often unsympathetic portrait of him. Opinion is divided as to whether it was Zelda who caused problems in the marriage and Scott's writing career, or Scott who was to blame for Zelda's later mental health issues. The truth is probably that they both held some blame, but this is a novel and the author certainly creates a sympathetic character in Zelda.

We follow the young Scott and Zelda as they become the original celebrity couple, tasting early success and fame in New York, to the shattered illusions of later life. On the way there is uncertainty, tragedy, debt and lots of lots of parties. Much of the most interesting parts of the book deals with their life in Paris and the meeting with Hemingway which changes their life, and relationship, forever. If this period interests you, you might well enjoy The Paris Wife, which tells the story of Hemingway's first wife, and has a similar feel to this novel. Overall, this is a very interesting tale, about a fascinating and beautiful woman who deserves to be remembered as more than Mrs Fitzgerald and which I enjoyed immensely.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fictional account of the original flapper girl., 10 April 2013
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lovemurakami "tooty2" (uk) - See all my reviews
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I am a huge fan of F Scott Fitzgerald, and have always been fascinated with the relationship between himself and Zelda. Their complex relationship makes for great reading, they were a fascinating couple who both had their own personal demons to contend with.

In Z Therese Anne Fowler has produced a fictional account of the life of Zelda and Scott and has produced a wonderful novel. It reminded me of The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, which deals with Ernest Hemingways marriage to Hadley Richardson, where Hadley shines out of the novel, and in fact Zelda and Scott appear. Here it's Zelda who takes centre stage, and we are given an insight into her life as a wife, mother and an artist/writer whose star was clouded by that of her husband. As many biographers and critics have suggested as well as Fowler, people tend to either believe that Zelda destroyed Scott's life or that infact it was the other way around and that it was Scott who ruined hers.

Z is a great read showing how two people who came together, became iconic figures of the 20th century due to his incredible talent and due to the tragedy of their lives fascinated and captivated all who followed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tempestuous relationship, 10 Jun 2013
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
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This is the story of F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, narrated by Zelda. It opens about the time that they meet in Montgomery, Alabama in 1918, and concludes with Scott's death in 1940. The majority of the book is taken up with the crazy years when they travelled endlessly from New York, to Paris, to the South of France, hanging out with Pablo Picasso and Cole Porter and Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway and a host of other literary and artistic luminaries. Their marriage was tempestuous: at times glamourous and golden, at others a tangle of alcohol, infidelity and jealousy. Zelda was Scott's muse and he wanted their lives to reflect the lives of those that he wrote about. He also had no compunction about publishing her writing under his own name and belittling her attempts to establish her own artistic career.

It took me a while to get into this book. My initial feeling was that Zelda was horribly immature and superficial, while Scott was obsessed with fame. I didn't find either of their personalities very appealing. However as the book goes on, Zelda becomes a more sympathetic character. Initially she loves the party lifestyle as much as Scott does and revels in their stimulating social circles. But gradually she starts to tire of it, especially after parenthood and health issues take their toll on her. This is when the relationship starts to go bad, as Scott resents her failing to keep up with him and complete her half of the "Golden Couple". When he befriends Ernest Hemingway, whom Zelda dislikes, that friendship also has a toxic effect on their relationship.

For the most part I found this book incredibly interesting and I loved the insight into this magic time that was the Jazz Era. However I felt that the author ran into problems when Zelda's mental health starts to fall apart. Until that point, Zelda has been portrayed as the more mature and sensible one of the pair, and the occasional incidences when all seemed to not be well - an attempted overdose on one occasion, throwing herself down the stairs when Scott was flirting with Isadora Duncan on another - are explained away as genuine accidents. Therefore her "sudden" mental collapse and diagnosis with schizophrenia feels completely out of left field and somewhat unbelievable. It's also hard to get a read on Zelda's artistic ambitions. I think we are meant to feel that Scott kept her from getting the credit and opportunities that she deserved, but there's also no indication that she had a great deal of talent.

So I'm in two minds about the book, but for the most part I enjoyed it - it's a fascinating story and has me wanting to re-read all of F Scott Fitzgerald's writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and moving book., 22 Jun 2013
By 
maggie nicolson (Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, GB) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (Kindle Edition)
I loved that the book was written from the perspective of Zelda Fitzgerald and showed the societal barriers to women having a creative life in their own right. It was chilling to read that her ambitions as a dancer were blamed for her mental distress rather than the fact that she was offered an amazing opportunity to be a lead ballerina and had to turn it down because of jealous opposition from her husband. She was prepared to defy him but could have lost her daughter because of the law which favoured the father in the event of disputes over custody and even access. I felt it was a thoughtful as well as exciting book. It also showed the tragedy of creative lives ruined by alcohol addiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 1 April 2013
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Before reading this I knew nothing about Zelda Fitzgerald, I had read and enjoyed some of F Scott Fitzgerald's work but didn't know much about him either.

I found myself engrossed in this after just reading a few pages, Zelda herself was an amazing but tragic character and Scott, so ambitious and complex.

Although a work of fiction, this story of their lives seems so real. It is told from Zelda's perspective and gives such an insight into their relationship and lifestyle in the glorious 20s.

I would highly recommend this even if you are not familiar with the work of F Scott Fitzgerald, although it is even more interesting if you have read some of his novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding, brings Zelda Fitzgerald to life, 17 Mar 2013
By 
M. K. Burton - See all my reviews
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Zelda Sayre is a vivid eighteen-year-old from Montgomery, Alabama, always the life of the party, when she meets F. Scott Fitzgerald. The youngest in her family, Zelda loves being the center of attention, and Scott is happy to put her at the focal point of his universe - for a time. As an aspiring author, but simultaneously a man who enjoys having fun, Scott is torn between numerous passions in a way that isn't clear to Zelda when they meet. When they marry, they're both certain that their lives are going to be full of success and love, with no perception of just what might happen when two vivid personalities clash.

I knew very little about Zelda Fitzgerald before I started reading this book. I had heard before that she had held back Scott's career and that she'd been in a mental institution; I'd also read somewhere that she and Scott loved each other despite the difficulties. This book gave me a lot of insight, I felt, into the kind of woman Zelda might have been, and went a long way towards explaining how two people can love each other an absurd amount and yet hate each other at the exact same time.

The novel starts with Zelda as a young, impressionable teenager who meets Scott and completely falls for him, a Northerner with ambitions completely different from any that the boys she knows have. They quickly marry and the book spans the rest of their lives up until Scott's death, so we get an insight as to how Zelda may have felt about all of his achievements, including his lack of them at times.

What I also really appreciated was that the novel gets across how Zelda might have felt as the wife of a man who was famous. She suffers hugely from a lack of her own identity, which made perfect sense to me; how would an ambitious, talented girl feel when she's constantly shuffled to the side? I can't imagine now, for myself, living in a time where my only duty was to keep house for my husband, simply because I'm not the sort of person who would be happy pouring all of my effort into someone else's life without any real recognition of my own. This is especially true for Zelda, who watches as her husband spends the hours he's meant to be working with a bottle in his hand, and who feels that she's lost her own identity to support his. Her struggles were so clearly understandable to me and I could feel their mutual frustration pouring out of the pages. What's heartbreaking about this book is that it's also obvious that they do love each other, but it's a destructive kind of love that is powerful but takes something huge out of both of them.

I also hadn't realized that Zelda was a creative force in her own right, painting, writing, and dancing in a way that might have brought her recognition on her own. Perhaps not if she'd never met Scott, but once she has a foothold in the creative world, she keeps on going. She had her own art exhibitions and she was invited to dance professionally; she even had her own published novel and short stories. I had never had any idea, and now I'm actually very curious to read the fictional accounts, on both sides, of their marriage.

A wonderful book that brought a historical figure to life for me, Z is a spellbinding read. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Planets Intent on Collision, 21 Feb 2013
By 
Richard M. Seel (Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
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Although this is a novel, it seems from the amount of research the writer has carried out, it could almost be a biography. Zelda is a fascinating woman in her own right and Fowler certain succeeds in presenting a woman who is larger than life.

Zelda loves life and most of all she loves Scott Fitzgerald and he obviously loves her although in later life there are times when he is not so sure. Zelda meets him as a young girl who in many ways reminds me of Scarlet in Gone with the Wind. She knows her own mind and manages to achieve most of what she wants although in her later years, this is not always the case.

The excitement of their early married life in Paris and summers in the South of France and the many exciting people they meet almost reads like a Who's Who at that time - Hemingway, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Nancy Mitford, Winston Churchill, etc. And then there is the tragedy when Zelda and Scott find themselves in the unhappy position of trying to become parents and how difficult Zelda finds it to get pregnant. And all this time they are living the high life.

When Zelda starts to write her own stories, Scott has them printed under his name as he will get a higher price than she will. And then Zelda starts to paint and begin ballet lessons, which she takes very seriously to the point of not eating and spending all her time practising and not looking after herself.

Scott is worried and sends Zelda to a clinic in Switzerland where it seems that the doctors believe that a major part of her problem is that she is mad as she is not devoted to her husband and does not `create a secure hearth and a tether for her husband'. The doctors then decide she has been re-educated and could enter the world again but on their conditions. I particularly found this section of the book fascinating and it is difficult for me to imagine that doctors could believe this.

Some may say that the marriage of Scott and Zelda was a tragedy waiting to happen but there were obviously many high points in their life together and who are we to judge...

Review by Shirleyanne Seel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fictionalised portrait of the toxic Fitzgerald marriage, 19 Jan 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This is an enjoyable read which portrays the life, love and breakdown of the marriage between Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. The original celebrity couple, their increasingly toxic relationship is set against a glamorous background of Manhattan, Paris, the French Riviera and Hollywood between the 1920s and 1940.

This is written as a first-person narrative by Zelda which inevitably means that we see everything through her view-point: this tends to make Scott, in the latter part of the book, an increasingly unsympathetic character: selfish, spiteful, sometimes petty and a bit of a bully.

The young Zelda is portrayed well: spirited, personable, unconventional and wild. But later her intense modernity seems to become quite diluted. There are jarring moments, for example, where she nags Scott about why he has to aim for literary excellence and why he can't just settle for a popular `just-good-enough' in his writing. She also attacks Hemingway's second wife for being a marriage-breaker, an idea which sits oddly with Zelda's own rejection of conventional, patriarchal female roles and nascent feminism.

So this doesn't, perhaps, capture the bewitching intensity, the instability and volatility of the real Zelda, and the last sections dealing with her mental breakdown (diagnosed as schizophrenia at the time, more recently suggested to be bipolar disorder) feel the least convincing.

But this is still a book I liked, and one which urges us to re-read Fitzgerald's own fictional transmutations of their marriage into fiction, especially in Tender is the Night.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read, 3 Jan 2013
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I think most people know at least something about Zelda Fitzgerald, and of course we all know about the infamous rows that she and her husband had. This book isn't a biography although it does use correct basic facts; this is a novelist's attempt to portray Zelda - and it must be admitted it is done with some aplomb.

Narrated by Zelda herself this goes back to before her marriage to just before she ever met F Scott Fitzgerald. A Southern belle who attracted a lot of male admirers of course things changed when she and Fitzgerald came together. Following on through their marriage, living in France and the problems with their marriage, this book portrays the couple with some sympathy. Fitzgerald wasn't exactly the ideal husband, he was wrapped up in himself and turned out short stories to keep the money coming in whilst working on his novels, although they weren't as frequent as expected. Of course Zelda suffered with bi-polar depression, and Fitzgerald was always keen to have a drink, leading to alcoholism.

Reading this novel you get a real feeling for both of them, and what it must have been like for their daughter, having to grow up with them. This portrays a tenderness between the two, although marred with obsessions, jealousy and other frailties. That Zelda never liked Hemingway, comes across really well here, and the concerns that she did have that perhaps her husband and Ernest were lovers. We know that both the Fitzgerald's had problems and in some ways reading this means that although you can see things that shouldn't happen doing so, you can feel for the characters with some sympathy, even when they are at their worse.

All in all this is a book that you can really get to grips with and enjoy, and hopefully get a look at a side of the Fitzgerald's that doesn't come across in non-fiction in quite the same way. This would actually make a good movie and is well worth reading, whether you know about the Fitzgerald's or not, all in all a very very good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 16 Jan 2013
By 
avid british reader (united kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This was rather unexpected and whilst its taken me some time to pour through it I would recommend to anyone who is as hooked on Fitzgerald as I am and always have been- a great gift idea for a pal who has read all his later works . good
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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
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