For nearly a century, The Great Gatsby has enthralled readers as the defining work of the jazz era: optimism, booze, excess, destruction. Few people have embodied the zeitgeist of the roaring 20s as well as F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. While countless authors have struggled to paint a picture of the Fitzgeralds and their oft turbulent and self-destructive marriage, Therese Ann Fowler’s decision to recount the life of Zelda Fitzgerald through a fictional lens in Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald allows her to build a narrative of the Southern debutante turned flapper celebrity that is utterly engrossing, hauntingly realistic, and entirely devastating.
From Zelda’s upbringing in small-town Montgomery, to the underground jazz halls of prohibition New York City, to Gertrude Stein’s Parisian artists’ salon, to coastal mansions in the French Riviera, Fowler takes readers on an adventure they won’t soon forget. We come to know Zelda as more than the spouse of a literary giant, but instead, as an artist in her own right — at the time, many of her own writings were published under her husband’s name. A woman ahead of her time, Fowler positions Zelda’s desire to establish herself as independent from her husband as her Achilles heel that ultimately elicits scorn from her family and friends.