By Wendy Holden
Was Zelda Fitzgerald really an unhinged Jazz Age sybarite who ground her poor husband into the dirt? Therese Anne Fowler obviously thinks not.
This imaginative fictional rehabilitation has Scott as tyrant while Zelda commands our sympathies as a spirited, warm-hearted and frustrated victim.
After the Fitzgeralds’ dazzling start, once Scott’s fragile ego and drinking take over, Zelda’s life as First Flapper becomes less and less fun.
We see her stuck in the ‘wives corner’ at Miss Stein’s salons, or curling her toes as sozzled Scott insults their friends. A crippling stomach problem means she’s sober and bored in restaurants while Scott soaks up what admiration he still can.
He ruins her burgeoning ballet career, puts his byline on her stories and insists nannies look after their daughter.
But the real threat to their happiness — for throughout it all, they love each other — is Ernest Hemingway. ‘Papa’ looms over the novel like a bloodsucking ogre. Both Fitzgeralds misread him, with catastrophic results. This book is a brilliant example of what biographical fiction can be. Read it, read it, read it.
|HODDER & STOUGHTON|