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:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2014, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


When Newman had gone off to France in the fall to fight with General Pershing, Tootsie came back home to live until he returned. "If he returns," she'd said glumly, earning a stern look from Daddy—who we all called the Judge, his being an associate Alabama Supreme Court justice. "Show some pride," he'd scolded Tootsie. "No matter the outcome, Newman's service honors the South." And she said, "Daddy, it's the twentieth century, for heaven's sake."

Now I told her, "I'm light a layer, according to Her Highness."

"Really, Baby, if you go out with no corset, men will think you're—"

"Immoral?"

"Yes."

"Maybe I don't care," I said. "Everything's different now anyway. The War Industries Board said not to wear corsets—"

"They said not to buy them. But that was a good try." She followed me into my bedroom. "Even if you don't care about social convention, have a thought for yourself; if the Judge knew you left the house half-naked, he would have your hide."

"I was tryin' to have a thought for myself," I said, stripping off my blouse, "and then all you people butted in."

Mama was still in the kitchen when I clattered back down the stairs. "That's better. Now the skirt," she said, pointing at my waist.

"Mama, no. It gets in my way when I run."

"Just fix it, please. I can't have you spoiling the Judge's good name just so you can get someplace faster."

"Nobody's out this early but the help, and anyway, when did you get so fussy?"

"It's a matter of what's appropriate. You're seventeen years old—"

"Eighteen, in twenty-six more days."

"Yes, that's right, even more to the point," she said. "Too old to still be a tomboy."

"Call me a fashion plate, then. Hemlines are goin' up, I saw it in McCall's."

She pointed at my skirt. "Not as high as that."

I kissed her on her softening jawline. No cream or powder could hide Time's toll on Mama's features. She'd be fifty-seven on her next birthday, and all those years showed in her lined face, her upswept hairdo, her insistence on sticking with her Edwardian shirtwaists and floor-sweeping skirts. She outright refused to make anything new for herself. "There's a war going on," she'd say, as if that explained everything. Tootsie and I had been so proud when she gave up her bustle at New Year's.

I said, "So long, Mama—don't wait lunch for me, I'm goin' to the diner with the girls."

Then the second I was out of sight, I sat down in the grass and pulled off my shoes and stockings to free my toes. Too bad, I thought, that my own freedom couldn't be had so easily.

*   *   *

Thunder rumbled in the distance as I headed toward Dexter Avenue, the wide thoroughfare that runs right up to the domed, columned state capitol, the most impressive building I had ever seen. Humming "Dance of the Hours," the tune I'd perform to later, I skipped along amid the smell of clipped grass and wet moss and sweet, decaying catalpa blooms.

Ballet, just then, was my one true love, begun at age nine when Mama had enrolled me in Professor Weisner's School of Dance—a failed attempt to keep me out of the trees and off the roofs. In ballet's music and motion there was joy and drama and passion and romance, all the things I desired from life. There were costumes, stories, parts to play, chances to be more than just the littlest Sayre girl—last in line, forever wanting to be old enough to be old enough.

I was on Mildred Street just past where it intersected with Sayre—named for my family, yes—when a sprinkle hit my cheek, and then one hit my forehead, and then God turned the faucet on full. I ran for the nearest tree and stood beneath its branches, for what little good it did. The wind whipped the leaves and the rain all around me and I was soaked in no time. Since I couldn't get any wetter, I just went on my way, imagining the trees as a troupe of swaying dancers and me an escaped orphan freed, finally, from a powerful warlock's tyranny. I might be lost in the forest, but as in all the best ballets, a prince was sure to happen along shortly.

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

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Sweet Caress
by William Boyd

William Boyd's Sweet Caress captures an entire lifetime unforgettably within its pages. It captivates.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.