In 1920, Zelda Sayre, a nineteen-year-old girl from Montgomery, Alabama, hops onto a train to New York City to marry F. Scott Fitzgerald. Within months, the couple is widely known among New York City’s society. The two of them stay up all night to drink and party and sleep until afternoon. This lifestyle leaves marks and so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Scott has problems concentrating on his writing.
The couple move to France where Scott is supposed to finish his novel undisturbed. This is where they meet some of the most influential artists and writers of the 20th century and their marriage starts to get complicated.
Therese Anne Fowler is very good at creating a suitable atmosphere. The depiction of surreal 1920s parties, the arty Paris salons and the increasing bleakness Zelda faces in France help to get a better understanding of the world she lives in and what it must be like for her to deal with it.
Z starts out as a cheerful, exciting novel and steadily drifts into a melancholic, desolate mood, which mirrors Zelda’s physical and mental health. This also affects the novel’s pace which slows down after the couple leave for Paris the first time. Reading Z, it becomes clear that you probably wouldn’t want to swap places with Zelda. In the end, she is nothing more than another wife who isn’t able to do what she wants just because her husband says so – and that is a complete understatement.