Day 1060: Literary Wives: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Cover for ZToday is another review for the Literary Wives blogging club, in which we discuss the depiction of wives in modern fiction. If you have read the book, please participate by leaving comments on any of our blogs. Be sure to read the reviews and comments of the other wives!

Ariel of One Little Library
Emily of The Bookshelf of Emily J.
Kate of Kate Rae Davis
Lynn of Smoke and Mirrors
Naomi of Consumed By Ink

My Review

I reviewed this novel about a year and a half ago, and I don’t want to repeat my review except as it applies to our subject. Overall, I thought that novel was interesting and painted a devastating picture of the Fitzgerald’s marriage. Here is my original review.

What does this book say about wives or about the experience of being a wife?

Although the Fitzgeralds start out with a loving relationship, their marriage goes sadly awry, mostly because of Scott Fitzgerald’s insecurities. A life full of drunken parties doesn’t help, nor does Fitzgerald’s friendship with Ernest Hemingway.

Fowler depicts Zelda as a creative woman whose work is robbed from her by her support for her husband. His “assistance” to her career of publishing several of her stories under his own name turns out to be a trap, whether planned or not. Afterwards she is unable to publish because her work is perceived to resemble Scott’s too much. When she finally writes a novel, he takes it over in the editing stage and butchers it.

Ernest Hemingway dislikes Zelda and feeds on Fitzgerald’s insecurities to destroy their marriage. Although Fitzgerald was an established author and Hemingway a newcomer when they met, Fitzgerald seems unsure about his own abilities. He starts out by taking Hemingway under his wing, but Hemingway pays him back by telling him that Zelda is ruining his life. At first, Scott dismisses such ideas, but after a while, he begins to believe them.

Being Scott Fitzgerald’s wife starts out fun but turns into a horrible life for Zelda. She struggles to express her own creativity. Aside from undercutting her career opportunities as a writer, when she is offered a lead role in a ballet, he threatens to take her daughter away from her. He returns her support by being a drunk, an unfaithful one, and by trying to control her. She finally ends up in a mental institution when she actually has nothing wrong with her mind.

Moral of the story: don’t marry insecure authors.

Related Posts

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

Mrs. Hemingway

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

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3 thoughts on “Day 1060: Literary Wives: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

  1. Naomi April 3, 2017 / 11:35 am

    We’ve both mentioned many of the same obstacles in their marriage, but his insecurity was really at the crux of all of it,wasn’t it? I wonder why he felt so insecure? Zelda’s job was basically to hold him up, make him feel good about himself.
    Her time spent in the institutions really made me see red – what a waste for her and for Scottie! But I guess it was like that for a lot of women then. That’s one area where we really have come a long way.
    Have you read any other accounts of the Fitzgerald’s, or was this your first?

    • whatmeread April 4, 2017 / 11:40 am

      It seemed to me as if Hemingway was working to promote the insecurity, but he must have been already insecure. I’m thinking the contrast between the person he wanted to be and his upbringing might be part of it. He was sort of like Gatsby. He was a middle class Midwesterner who wanted to be an elite East Coaster. I know I have read something else about Zelda, but I can’t remember it very well.

  2. whatmeread April 3, 2017 / 12:32 pm

    Yes, and I think Hemingway ‘s was also HIS problem. And Hemingway was actively trying to make Fitz feel insecure. I think I read a bio of Zelda, but it’s really fuzzy in my mind.

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