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Another Side of Paradise

Review

Another Side of Paradise

Sally Koslow, who was once the editor in chief of McCall’s magazine and is now a novelist and memoirist, has taken on the meaty subject of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last love affair, retold as fiction. The object of his affections, Sheilah Graham, is both protagonist and narrator. And as a larger-than-life character herself as well as a journalist, she is well suited to both roles.

Though Koslow has “blurred timelines and a handful of details,” ANOTHER SIDE OF PARADISE is based on the real-life story of Graham, who rose from the slums of London to become a well-known Hollywood gossip columnist and radio personality. That she hid her Jewish upbringing in an orphanage to pass herself off as a refined member of the British upper class makes her own story all the more riveting.

"...a remarkable story of love, loss and the cost of creativity. It is an impressive accomplishment."

Graham (nee Lily Shiel) met Fitzgerald at a party in 1936 and was with him until his death in 1940 at the age of 44. With Fitzgerald’s glory days behind him, as alcoholism and his own obstinacy got him fired from many screenwriting jobs --- including one on Gone with the Wind --- Graham had to manage her own career while tending his bruised ego. She was not without her own inner turmoil; at one point, she compares herself to Jay Gatsby, noting, “Both of us changed our names, concealed our pasts, and with a blast of bravado have created an alias that we pray society will admire…. Inwardly, we feel perpetually second-rate.”

Their affair was haunted by Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the last 10 years of their marriage in an insane asylum. Though he loved the talented and beautiful Graham, Zelda had been his first love and muse. Koslow adeptly shows the effects that Fitzgerald’s divided loyalties have on his own mental health and the resulting frustration Graham must face when he goes on yet another bender.

ANOTHER SIDE OF PARADISE is an amalgam of Sheilah Graham’s own books (including the bestselling BELOVED INFIDEL) and other biographies, but Koslow has woven them together into a remarkable story of love, loss and the cost of creativity. It is an impressive accomplishment.

Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley on June 1, 2018

Another Side of Paradise
by Sally Koslow

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0062696769
  • ISBN-13: 9780062696762