18 June 2014

Z is for Zelda (Zelda is for me)


I finished a really great book last night.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler reminded me of the spirit or intent of The Paris Wife in that it told a fictionalized first-person version of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald's life based on deep and meticulous historical research (Fowler included her own rewriting of many of the couple's letters, which I liked) similar to the way TPW told one for Hadley Hemingway.  I am 100% Team Zelda after reading the novel and felt sad to have reached the last page late last night. She had style and talent--as a writer, a dancer, a conversationalist--with a once fiery marriage that ended up draining her and an adventurous, decadent lifestyle that took its toll.  The book transported me to a time (and many places--Paris, NYC, among others) I have always been interested in and I enjoyed it very much, especially Chapter 39:

"Beyond our royal lawn, the river flows past, broad and brown and silent, unconcerned with the little party gathered at its bank this afternoon, the twenty-first of May.  It's 1927, but it could be a hundred years earlier or a thousand or three; the river doesn't know or care.  It doesn't care, either, about the dramas playing out among the people at this picnic, or about the one taking place in the sky far to the northeast, where Charles Lindberg is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Paris with a single engine in a single flight.

"If the river has a soul, it's a peaceful one.  If it has a lesson to impart, that lesson is patience.  There will be drought, it says; there will be floods; the ice will form, the ice will melt; the water will flow and blend into the river's brackish mouth, then join the ocean between Lewes and Cape May, endlessly, forever, amen...

"My dress for this picnic is as brown as the river.  As much as I'm succeeding in imitating the river's appearance, I haven't been able to assimilate its wisdom--and won't, not until years later...

"The sight of one of the maids standing on the porch and waving a dish towel gets our attention.  'It was on the radio!' she calls.  'Mr. Lindberg just landed his plane in Paris!'

"We foolishly look up at the sky past the treetops, as if we can see the plane, see it descending lower, lower, then disappearing from our sight.  It is the end of an astonishing journey, I think.  All done now, nothing more to see."

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