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Readers' Comments for Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

This spring, a select group of readers who participated in a Special Feature won copies of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. The novel is about beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre, who meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, when she is 17 years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the two embark on a whirlwind romance at the dawn of the Jazz Age, when everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous --- sometimes infamous --- husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too? Take a look at some of the readers' comments to give you more insight into the story ---  SPOILER ALERT!

We thank all of those who participated in this promotion. For those of you who would like to read this novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is in stores.

I was so excited when I won this book. And then I was even more excited when I read the first 10 pages and realized it was going to be awesome.

This is an impressive historical fiction novel. Fowler clearly did her research, but so much more impressive is the absolutely believable, perfectly flawed, larger-than-life and exact everyday life enraging and endearing characters that Fowler lifted out of the pages of history and put to life, dancing and fighting, drinking and arguing, laughing and crying, right on the pages in front of you.

Not only were the characters fresh, alive, warm, cold and just so tangible, but the writing was insightful as well. Fowler's story is believable and complete. Maybe it's not 100% accurate --- I don't believe any of us knows, but Fowler's story is one that I can accept, that I can believe. And it certainly felt more likely, more feasible and more real than other renditions I've heard or read over the years. In the end, Fowler admits that it's a novelization, but as I walked away from the book, I thought that just maybe, Fowler did actually get it 100% right. Just maybe...

The only reason I’m not giving this book a 5-star rating is that there were a few places that dragged. The story slowed down, and it felt more biographical in a few places. Overall, I highly recommend this book. I recommend it to people interested in history, in biography, in drama, in THE GREAT GATSBY, in feminism, in masochism, in love, in tragedy, and in wonder. This book has it all!

The book gave me a whole different outlook on F. Scott Fitzgerald. Zelda was a tough person --- was not sure if the character Daisy in THE GREAT GATSBY was modeled after her. It was a great read!

I am just finishing Z, which is an amazing book. It really feels as though Zelda herself is telling the story. In spite of all the wonderful places they lived and all the famous people they knew, I wouldn't trade lives with her. I am passing along the book to other members of our Wesley Readers Book Club. 

I did read the novel Z and really enjoyed it. I thought it was well written and gave a glimpse into the life led by the Fitzgeralds. It was interesting to read it around the time the movie The Great Gatsby was in theaters. I saw many similarities between the movie and Z. I felt the novel gave a nice description of the era, as well as a look at the woman behind the great author.

Z was amazing! The author captured the spirit of the times in Montgomery, Alabama, but also New York, Paris, etc. Her characters rang true at all times. I truly felt like I was there; it’s a very well-crafted book. This book inspired me to read the books in her "notes and acknowledgements.”

Once I started reading Z I couldn't put it down. The verse is impeccable, the descriptions spot on and the decay remarkably portrayed. Therese Ann Fowler recreates the time with vivid detail and extreme clarity, while spotlighting the greed and excess of the Fitzgeralds and their social playmates. It is a sad commentary on a group of wealthy, lazy, immoral people who suffered completely after their “life's party.”

I enjoyed reading Z and found it to be an exciting portrait of the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, who was an independent woman at a time when to be so was not necessarily admired or appreciated. Her marriage to F. Scott brought her fame and fortune with his success as a novelist, but his drinking led to the destruction of much that had made them the "golden couple.”  Zelda struggled with the notion that as a Sayre she had to be more than just a wife, mother and daughter. When she had a showing of her paintings, they were labeled "the work of a wife," and when she published her novel, THE LAST WALTZ, it received poor reviews and sold very few copies. Despite the fame and fortune that came with her marriage to F. Scott, she struggled with feelings of inferiority and the book makes it clear that, although she was not appreciated for it at the time, she was a woman with a mind and talent of her own.

Z is the perfect companion to Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and Paula McClain's THE PARIS WIFEI read Z on a sunny beach and got quite sunburned, as I couldn't put it down and lost all track of time. Zelda Fitzgerald is someone I had heard about, but little did I realize how utterly fascinating she was. Therese Anne Fowler's Zelda springs to vivid life on the page, with all her complications and fierceness. Not only do we see how Zelda and Scott lived, but Fowler also shows us the difficulties that a strong-willed, artistic, ambitious woman of that time faced. I loved traveling from Alabama to New York to Paris to Baltimore and beyond in this exceptional novel. After reading this, I am putting F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald's canon of writing on my to-be-read list. Z is definitely one of the most compelling novels of this year.

I have read Z and again appreciate the book being sent to me. It started out slowly for me, but the further I read, the more I enjoyed reading about Zelda. I didn't think I liked the format in a narrative style, but I found it made me get a more personal view of this woman and I found myself sympathizing with her. I loved reading about the scenes and lifestyles of New York City and Paris during the 1920s. It reminded me of the movie Midnight in Paris. My next books will be the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction and memoirs.  

I thoroughly enjoyed Z. The picture of her struggle to find her own identity in the 1920s as a person was fascinating; I admired her determination to find herself in a world that seemed rigged against her, especially the choice between being a mother or a dancer.

The cause as well as the results of the conflict between Zelda and Hemingway was also interesting, particularly since I had recently read THE PARIS WIFE.

This novel would be an excellent choice for a reading club. The insight into the varying cultures --- Southern, Northern, American, European, wealthy, poor, big city, country --- will promote a lively discussion.

I truly enjoyed A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD, in spite of all of the heartbreak. I am a senior citizen, born in 1929, so I remember many of these names from my teens and early 20s. My life was the exact opposite of those written about, but nevertheless they were a part of my time as well. George Cohen, Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, Florence Ziegfeld, Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, Charlie Chaplain, Douglas Fairbanks, Tallulah Bankhead, Cole Porter and on and on, all names of the distant past, but still an influence today. One thing that kept running through my head as I read was that so many famous, talented people have the same problems today as those did in the day of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda. I have read LOVING FRANK and THE PARIS WIFE as well, and the same thoughts occurred then.

Donna T.
I enjoyed the book. It seemed to capture the time period, which brings the reader into a magical world where everything seemed possible and believable.

I began to read the book about Zelda and it gave me new insight into how her mind worked and how she met her husband.  It is a very good book and I would recommend it to my friends.

Z was a great read! I loved comparing it to THE PARIS WIFE that I read a few years ago. Many parts of Z and PARIS WIFE described meetings between the Fitzgeralds and Hemingways and it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between the author's descriptions of both couples. I have read several of Hemingway's books since and plan to reread THE GREAT GATSBY again, hopefully before the movie comes out!  Fiction based on more current historical figures is fascinating and encourages me to explore more works by or about the subject. I also enjoyed recently reading THE AVIATOR’S WIFE and am currently reading THAT WOMAN.

I really enjoyed reading Z. I was a big fan of Scott Fitzgerald when I was younger, but had never studied his life or family. It was interesting to learn more about the Fitzgerald’s, as well as entertaining. After reading Z, I was interested in finding more biographies on the Fitzgerald family to learn more about their lives. I have passed the book on to a friend, and I told everyone at my book club last month about the book. Thanks for the advanced copy!

I did enjoy reading Fowler's take on Zelda Fitzgerald! I thought the first 120 pages were a little slow, but after that I became fully engaged in the story. I really felt the anguish and disappointment Zelda experienced living in the shadow of Scott's literary acclaim, and the need for her to become her own writer and artist was thoroughly drawn. I was appalled at the "re-education" theory of psychiatry for women back in this era, and her mis-diagnosis of "schizophrenia," when really it was more of "bipolar," was shocking. The administering of shock treatments and trying to convince her that succumbing to her "dutiful role as grateful wife" to a husband made me livid! Finally, a woman therapist allowed Zelda to write as much as she liked, and then and only then did her condition improve. It was great to know she finally enjoyed some genuine critical acclaim as an artist --- even though the scars of her mental condition always hovered near the surface. Who ruined whose life the most? This is the question the readers are left with.

I just finished the book Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD. It came just after I had finished THE PARIS WIFE. I love all these new books focusing on the women behind the famous men! I really enjoyed this book and loved all the details of the roaring ‘20s. I did not know anything about Zelda before this book. After finishing this book I did research about her. I love a book that makes me want to know more about the subject! I am looking forward to the movie The Great Gatsby with a new understanding and knowledge of Zelda.

I loved the book and shared it with two members of my book club. I give it a four out of five…a compelling story of the famous Jazz Age couple Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and their explosive relationship. Told from Zelda's point of view from the young age of 17, you follow the highs and lows of her life with F. Scott and her struggles with mental illness. It is definitely a good read. Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this advanced copy.

I found Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD very interesting, especially having read both THE PARIS WIFE and THE AVIATOR’S WIFE. I also took a course last year that had other readings from that time period, so this added to my impression of the ‘20s. I previously had known very little about the Fitzgeralds, so I appreciated learning about them and more about the time period. 

I think book groups will appreciate reading this book, and I think there are lots of issues that could be great for discussions. I plan to recommend it to my own book group, as well as post on various book websites. 

I loved reading this story so rich with descriptions of the Roaring ‘20s. I didn't know that it was F. Scott Fitzgerald that wrote my favorite movie, The Great Gatsby! It was such a great movie. Of course, it was the book he wrote, but he also wrote scripts for movies. His wife was really quite interesting in her own right. She wrote a lot of stories and they were published under his name so that she could be paid more for the stories. They had a daughter whom they called Scottie. Zelda was a very accomplished ballet performer. She was offered a job with a professional company. She and her husband travelled all over Europe. They had quite a life. I would recommend the book to anyone. The book is really rich with details of their life and I think it was a really interesting. Zelda really should be recognized for her accomplishments.

Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD was an amazing book to read --- I absolutely loved it! From the glitz and the glamour of the period to the emotional struggles that Zelda herself went through, I couldn’t put it down! I also wanted to say that I loved Therese Anne Fowler’s writing style and it seems like she put an incredible amount of time and effort into research for this book in order to make it historically and factually accurate. I have been telling all of my family and friends about it.