"To enjoy each other and love without inhibition was their credo; right or wrong, it made no difference."

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda Sayre, are immortalized in American history, as much for their cultural influences and unrestrained lifestyle as for his literary career. Fitzgerald’s characters were largely influenced by his acquaintances and perhaps none more so than Jay Gatsby from his now classic novel, The Great Gatsby. After relocating to France for Scott to concentrate on his writing, Zelda becomes romantically involved with a French pilot, Edouard Jozan. Their brief relationship torments Fitzgerald for the remainder of their marriage, with his wife’s betrayal establishing a theme throughout his subsequent work, and Jozan shaping much of Gatsby’s persona.

This historical study chronicles the couple’s marriage from both perspectives, but the author presents the past with an emphasis on Zelda’s interpretation of their experiences. This shifting viewpoint allows the reader to develop a greater understanding of her personal turmoil and provides her the spotlight she desperately sought throughout her life. While Fitzgerald received widespread recognition for his writing, his works were often derived from Zelda’s journals, musings, and struggles with mental health issues. Taylor explores how this use of intimate material woven into Fitzgerald’s novels and short stories impacts Zelda’s ability to possess her own experiences and tell her story through her own words. Meticulously researched, the author’s attention to detail creates an immersion into the Jazz Age and highlights previously unknown events that offer explanations for both Fitzgerald and Zelda’s recklessness and approach to life. Much has been documented about their tumultuous relationship, but Taylor examines the couple’s dependence on each other through an unfiltered lens that reveals the life events that shaped their existence and, ultimately, their demise. The author’s skill at discovering new information on the uninhibited couple’s past encounters connects the previously missing pieces and establishes a multi-dimensional picture of these passionate individuals.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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