Excerpt from Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

By Therese Fowler

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 2013,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2014,
    384 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1

Picture a late-June morning in 1918, a time when Montgomery wore her prettiest spring dress and finest floral perfume—same as I would wear that evening. Our house, a roomy Victorian on Pleasant Avenue, was wrapped in the tiny white blooms of Confederate jasmine and the purple splendor of morning glories. It was a Saturday, and early yet, and cloudy. Birds had congregated in the big magnolia tree and were singing at top volume as if auditioning to be soloists in a Sunday choir.

From our back stairway's window I saw a slow horse pulling a rickety wagon. Behind it walked two colored women who called out the names of vegetables as they went. Beets! Sweet peas! Turnips! they sang, louder even than the birds.

"Hey, Katy," I said, coming into the kitchen. "Bess and Clara are out there, did you hear 'em?" On the wide wooden table was a platter covered by a dish towel. "Plain?" I asked hopefully, reaching beneath the towel for a biscuit.

"No, cheese—now, don't make that face," she said, opening the door to wave to her friends. "Nothin' today!" she shouted. Turning to me, she said, "You can't have peach preserves every day of your life."

"Old Aunt Julia said that was the only thing keepin' me sweet enough to evade the devil." I bit into the biscuit and said, mouth full, "Are the Lord and Lady still asleep?"

"They both in the parlor, which I 'spect you know since you used the back stairway."

I set my biscuit aside so as to roll my blue skirt's waistband one more turn, allowing another inch of skin to show above my bare ankles. "There."

"Maybe I best get you the preserves after all," Katy told me, shaking her head. "You mean to wear shoes, at least."

"It's too hot—and if it rains, they'll just get soaked and my toes'll prune up and the skin'll peel and then I'll have to go shoeless and I can't, I have my ballet solo tonight."

"My own mama would whip me if I's to go in public like that," Katy clucked.

"She would not, you're thirty years old."

"You think that matter to her?"

I thought of how my parents still counseled and lectured my three sisters and my brother, all at least seven years older than me, all full adults with children of their own—except for Rosalind. Tootsie, we call her. She and Newman, who was off fighting in France, same as our sister Tilde's husband, John, were taking their time about parenthood—or maybe it was taking its time about them. And I thought of how my grandmother Musidora, when she lived with us, couldn't help advising Daddy about everything from his haircuts to his rulings. The thing, then, was to get away from one's parents, and stay away.

"Anyway, never mind," I said as I went for the back door, sure that my escape was at hand. "Long as no one here sees me—"

"Baby!" I jumped at Mama's voice coming from the doorway behind us. "For heaven's sake," she said, "where are your stockings and shoes?"

"I'm just goin'—"

"—right back to your room to get dressed. You can't think you were walking to town that way!"

Katy said, "S'cuse me, I just remembered we low on turnips," and out she went.

"Not to town," I lied. "To the orchard. I'm goin' to practice for tonight." I extended my arms and did a graceful plié.

Mama said, "Yes, lovely. I'm sure, however, that there's no time for practice; didn't you say the Red Cross meeting starts at nine?"

"What time is it?" I turned to see that the clock read twenty minutes 'til. I rushed past Mama and up the stairs, saying, "I better get my shoes and get out of here!"

"Please tell me you're wearing your corset," she called.

Tootsie was in the upstairs hallway still dressed in her nightgown, hair disheveled, sleep in her eyes. "What's all this?"

Excerpted from Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Fowler. Copyright © 2013 by Therese Fowler. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  American Expat Writers in Paris

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  170The Weight of Blood:
    Laura McHugh
  2.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois

All Discussions

Who Said...

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.