Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

March 9, 2015 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

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Late night reading continues at our house. I described our sleep routine at mom and baby group recently: daddy takes the 8pm to midnight shift while I sleep. Then I am up until about 6 or 7am with babe, and daddy will do another hour or two before work while I nap. Sometimes I catch a few zzzz’s during the wee hours, but I’m torn between a night full of catnaps or just staying awake, reading, writing or watching movies. Everyone at baby group cringed at this staying up all night business, but the alternative is constantly trying to fall asleep only to be woken a short time later since the baby rarely sleeps for longer than 45 minutes at a stretch. Either way, it is torture. Pray that he starts sleeping someday!

This book, Z, was lovely company for me during the night shift. It’s a novel about the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, who was married to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby. If you’ve ever seen the movie Midnight in Paris you’ll remember what a glamorous thing it was to be a literary star in the Jazz Age. 

Although this book is fiction, it is based on the true story of the Fitzgerald’s and their rise and fall among the likes of Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. The story is told in Zelda’s voice, which is wonderful – smart, sassy, and fun but also full of sorrow as the life she envisioned when she married Scott at 19 ends up in shambles. Love, art, celebrity – they had it all, but only for a short time until mental illness, alcoholism, infidelity, betrayal crept in. 

The thing I liked most about the book was learning how much Zelda had to do with her husband’s success and fame. Spouses of famous artists never get enough credit – they are usually toiling away in the background, managing careers, households, egos and more, all the while sacrificing their own interests and ambitions. That was definitely true of Zelda. In the book we see her talents as an artist, writer and dancer constantly undermined by Scott’s career and his desire for her to stay firmly planted in the role of wife. Such a shame, and it seems outrageous now, but those were different days. 

I also liked that Zelda had a nanny. I could do with one of those. The world has been full of free advice about all the things you can do to help babies sleep. After almost three months of this all I can say is that we’ve heard it all and tried it all. The only thing that seems to work is actual help – i.e. come over to my house and take a turn bouncing and shushing and singing this child to sleep while his poor, exhausted but increasingly well-read mother takes a nap. Or at least recommend a good book!

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Entry filed under: Reading.

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