Today 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!
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.