book beginnings on Friday: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Thanks to Rose City Reader for hosting. To participate, share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line.

I have been on quite a kick lately! Between the Hemingway-Fitzgerald-and-Faulkner class (final wrap-up here); The Other Typist; and The Great Gatsby movie (review to come), I am all wrapped up in the 1920’s these days.

Therefore, in the spirit of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank, and because I am a Fitzgerald fan as well as a fan (who isn’t?) of the flamboyant flappers’ era, of course I had to get my hands on this new “novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.” I had a tip that I should do it on audio, since Zelda’s South twang is so charmingly performed. So here we are. The book begins with a short letter from Zelda to Scott, which I would like to think is real but a few sources say isn’t. Ah well.

December 20, 1940

Dear Scott,

The Love of the Last Tycoon is a great title for your novel. What does Max say?

I’ve been thinking that maybe I’ll brave an airplane ride and come to see you for New Year’s. Wire me the money, if you can. Won’t we be quite the pair?– you with your bad heart, me with my bad head. Together, though, we might have something worthwhile. I’ll bring you some of those cheese biscuits you always loved, and you can read me what you’ve written so far. I know it’s going to be a wonderful novel, Scott, your best one yet.

This is short so I can send it before the post office closes today. Write me soon.



I find the beginning enjoyable, although I already have a few concerns. For one thing, I note a suspiciously strong feeling of deja vu: is this Scarlett O’Hara I see here, only having won her Ashley Wilkes this time around? She even puts on a green dress for the purposes of charming her beaux, although it’s possible this is a confirmed historical fact. (Not worth my research at this point in time.) And while there are some charming turns of phrase, there is also the reference to “eyes as green and expressive as the Irish Sea” – which, ostensibly coming from a 17-year-old lifetime resident of Montgomery, Alabama, doesn’t feel like quite the right choice of words. For now, though, I will suspend these quibbles and lose myself in Zelda’s gushings.

And what are you reading this week?

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