RATING: VERY GOOD
What a fascinating read!!! I really loved the book. It is not an easy read as this couple was so destructive for each other, and it is no wonder their endings were so tragic.
The Fitzgeralds’ stay in Paris was marked by Scott and Hemingway’s friendship. Zelda dislikes Hemingway as she considers him a very bad influence on her husband. Scott drinks even more and stays out all night. Besides, in the book Hemingway makes a pass at Zelda, which she takes as proof that Ernest is not a true friend. Scott is portrayed as a man who was obsessed with Hemingway and measured himself against him. There were rumour at the time that they were lovers, and in the book Zelda is suspicious. What she knows is that Hemingway tries to show her off in a bad light to her husband.
The Fitzgeralds keep moving all the time: France, the French Riviera, Hollywood… They seem unable to settle anywhere. Scott is portrayed as a man who wants to control his wife and sees her as his entourage. Zelda starts taking dance lessons again as a way to find a distraction to her problems, and she is even offered a place to dance in Naples, but she has to refuse because Scott won’t let her. He can’t allow his wife to be good for herself, and he even threatens to take Scottie away. Zelda also writes stories and articles while her husband spends his days drunk or hungover, and the stories and articles are published with both their names.
Then Zelda suffers a mental breakdown and has to be committed to a mental hospital in Switzerland. She is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and from this point onwards she comes in and out of mental institutions all the time. In America she also has to stay in a hospital in North Carolina, and when she is released, she stays with her family in Montgomery. It is then that her mother gets the news of Scott’s death. She has had a heart attack and has died at 44.
This is the end of the novel, and the author explains that Zelda continued suffering from her mental problems and had to be institutionalised several times. She and Scottie didn’t have a close relationship as she had been absent while in hospitals. Then Zelda died in one of these hospitals when a fire broke out and she was trapped inside. What a terrible ending!!!
I really love the book. My impression is that Scott and Zelda were quite toxic for each other, and I am surprised that they didn’t separate. Scott didn’t let his wife expand her wings, and I wonder if Zelda could have done more in her life alone without Scott’s interference. It is a sad book. There are parts that are lovely when they are in love at the beginning, but then it is very heartbreaking to see Scott on his way to self-destruction.