Z by Therese Anne Fowler

Hi. 

I finished this book a couple weeks ago. And I’m finally following up now to write about it. This is pretty bad for me, considering that I like to write reviews soon after I finish books. 

But that’s okay. Life has been busy. I can’t tell those stories now, but they may become funny anecdotes of this “new adventure” later. 

On to Z. It is about Zelda Fitzgerald. The wife of the acclaimed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote Gatsby, one of my favorite books, and some other short stories and novels that I’ve yet to read. They’re on my list. Back to Zelda. She was married to Scott. She was a mid-twentieth century housewife, basically, who ended up doing some writing but was lost in the shadow of her husband. 

The book starts out when Zelda is a teenager in Montgomery, AL. I think the beginning bit was my favorite- her everyday teenage life during WWI, her meeting and falling in love with Scott. Their unlikely romance. The disapproval of her father. Their marriage. That was all great, described in the right amount of detail. Plus, some things, like how Zelda and Scott met, are known facts, meaning that the beginning wasn’t too fictionalized for me. 

The rest of the book was a different story. Scott and Zelda parade around a couple cities in the U.S. and all over Europe, doing the “typical-of-the-twenties” upper class partying and overindulging. It goes on to start their lives together, husband and wife, and eventually with their daughter Scottie as well. Like an oil town, the three go through boom and bust periods- when Scott will sell stories for hundreds or thousands each, bringing a couple months of prosperity, or nothing will sell at all as he “labors away” at a new novel. (The quotes here were intentional; it is known in real life and the book that Scott has a drinking problem.)

I thought I would like this book more than I did. I had expected it to be more like creative nonfiction in the details of the novel. But it wasn’t at all. Because it was a novel, Fowler took what I believed to be a lot of creative license and used details in strange pockets. She would describe certain scenes so precisely, but then go for months of the Fitzgeralds’ lives without any detail at all. The lack of an even level disappointed me. 

I was also expecting a book that was harder to read. This wasn’t hard to read in terms of language, and it wasn’t that hard content-wise or emotionally either. I thought this book would challenge my mind and perspective, and the way that it did was so much more limited than what I had hoped. 

Overall, I’m giving this book three and a half out of five stars. The writing at the beginning is beautiful- timeless teenage angst, with an original quality to it. Teens who have to read works like This Side of Paradise or The Great Gatsby for school and like them would enjoy this book for a different perspective. Yet if you are even somewhat familiar with their lives (I did a small research project on Scott and the release of Gatsby last year) and are looking for something new and in-depth, then don’t read it or don’t set your hopes high when you do. 

Now, I have to go brunch and do homework and read H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights so I can post that review too. 

Happy reading!

-Nicole

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One thought on “Z by Therese Anne Fowler

  1. I like how you talk about your disappointment in the unevenness tone: detailed in places, skimpy in others. I think that’s something that often leaves me disappointed in books, or at least causes me to ‘leave’ the world of the book and bounce back into reality in a jarring way.

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