Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck – Book Review

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin

Like Therese Fowler’s Z, Call Me Zelda is a story of the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, perhaps best known as the troubled wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, although an accomplished writer and artist in her own right. Whereas Z focuses on Zelda’s life from the time she met Scott, Call Me Zelda begins after Zelda has already been institutionalized for mental illness. Robuck’s protagonist is not Zelda herself, but Anna, a psychiatric nurse at Zelda’s hospital, with whom Zelda forms an attachment. Anna is an engaging, well-drawn character, and a very necessary one. Robuck’s Zelda is increasingly in the grips of her mental illness, and thus not truly fit to narrate her own story, devolving as she is into madness. Anna, while in the grips of pain from her own losses, is able to see Zelda and Scott’s lives a bit more objectively, despite her attachment to Zelda.

In many ways I liked Call Me Zelda even more than Robuck’s previous book, Hemingway’s Girl. The non-famous person is, in this case, integral to understanding the life of the famous one. Anna is also an incredibly engaging main character. She is sympathetically drawn with real pain and a real life of her own. She is complex and, therefore, interesting. Her appeal to rationality is a good balance to Zelda’s lack of reason.

Call Me Zelda is a lovely and engaging novel and if you’ve already enjoyed Z, Call Me Zelda picks up largely where it leaves off, making the two books a good pairing. Recommended.

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Source: Publisher, via Edelweiss.
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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler – Book Review

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

Depending on whose account you read, Zelda was either F. Scott Fitzgerald’s muse or the thing that ruined his life and his writing career. What often gets lost in the discussion is the fact that Zelda was a smart woman and a talented writer in her own right. Therese Anne Fowler’s Z remedies all of this. Z joins Zelda’s story before she ever meets Scott and covers her life through their often rocky marriage through Zelda’s institutionalization and Scott’s death.

I loved this book from page one. Fowler’s writing is lovely, and seems to bring the essence of Zelda roaring to life. My favorite thing about it, though, may have been Zelda’s antipathy towards Hemingway. I do not personally have a high opinion of the man (or his writing, to be honest), so Zelda’s smack talk made me feel vindicated in my opinions of him. Fowler’s Hemingway is delightfully mean and vindictive, with a side of manipulative that ensnares her Scott Fitzgerald.

Of course, a novel cannot be carried on hatred of Hemingway alone. Luckily even for those of you who adore Hemingway, Z is a vividly imagined novel about one of the most fascinating women of the early 20th century. Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2013