Review based on ARC.
I was so excited when I won this book. And then I was even more excited when I read the first 10 pages and realized it. was gonna be. awesome.
I was so excited, in fact, that I told anyone who would listen what I was reading, what it was about, and what I thought about it.
Many of my friends said they couldn't wait to read it, and a fair number of those even finished first.
That was the worst part about my experience with this book -- I got SO busy between reading those first 10 pages and reading the last 10 pages that I couldn't just SIT and absorb it all at once.
But that's also one of the things that was so impressive about the book. During my absences, Zelda and Scott's lives would merely pause, waiting for me to return. And upon my return, we picked right back up, as if we had not lost any time.. just as you would with an old friend.
This is an impressive historical fiction piece. Fowler clearly did her research, but so much more impressive is the absolutely believable, perfectly flawed, larger than life and exactly every day life, enraging and endearing characters that Fowler lifted out of the pages of history and put to life, dancing and fighting, drinking and arguing, laughing and crying, right on the pages in front of you.
Not only were the characters fresh and alive and warm and cold and just so tangible, but the writing was insightful as well. Perhaps Fowler got it wrong. Maybe Z was more casebook schizophrenic. Maybe she was straight-up crazy. Maybe Scott was brilliant and Z just brought him down. But it didn't matter. Fowler's story is believable and complete. Maybe it's not 100% accurate -- I don't believe any of us knows. But Fowler's story is one that I can accept, that I can believe. And it certainly felt more likely, more feasible, and more real than other renditions I've heard or read over the years. In the end, Fowler admits that it's a novelization, but as I walked away from the book, I thought that just maybe, Fowler did actually get it 100% right. Just maybe...
The only reason this book isn't a 5 star is that there were a few places that dragged. The story slowed down, and it felt more biographical in a few places than like the telling of a great story. But overall, I highly recommend. I recommend to people interested in history, in biography, in drama, in Gatsby, in crazy, in feminism, in masochism, in love, in tragedy, and in wonder. This book has it all.
FOUR AND A HALF of five stars.