Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck

Description (from cover):

'Everything in the ward seemed different now, and I no longer felt is calming presence. The Fitzgeralds stirred something in me that had been dormant for a long time, and I was not prepared to face it...

From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.

When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds' tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda's most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended...'

My thoughts:

I started reading this book with very limited knowledge of the Fitzgeralds. I read another book about Zelda Fitzgerald, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald recently and had only the knowledge of that book of what the Fitzgeralds were like. They were king and queen of their era and everyone loved them. They reigned over the most scandalous parties, engaged in passionate love affairs and mingled with some of the finest literary writers of history. Yet they had their own tragedies and heartbreak that seemed to ruin them. Once in love, their lives take a traumatic turn and soon their relationship is wrought with betrayal and madness. The other book I read about these two focuses more on their life in the glamor, while this book focuses on their breakdowns and life outside of the spotlight.

Zelda is placed in a psychiatric clinic for her insanity. One day she is brilliant, the others she slips deeper into her own madness. Anna Howard enters the picture and uses her own past to relate to Zelda in a way that few people have in Zelda's life. Zelda becomes reliant on Anna and they form a friendship that will last through the years. This book is a beautiful picture into a celebrity couple whose own tragedies rip them apart as a couple and inside their own minds. Scott is an alcoholic who cannot hand over the torch of genius to his smart and brilliant wife. Zelda cannot get out from Scott's shadow to forge a life and name for herself. They are tethered to each other in ways that will destroy both of them. 

Robuck does a fantastic job of creating an interesting story that the reader, despite knowing the outcomes of these two tragic characters, can't help but cheer them on and hope for salvation. Robuck has nailed sympathy for these characters and made this story touching beyond words. I found this book to be openly engaging, utterly tragic and beautiful at the same time. I couldn't put it down. It was simply a different approach to famous people who are acclaimed for their genius, but that genius tends to defeat the characters in the end. A great read that I encourage people who want to learn more about Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to read. 

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Call Me Zelda
Author:  Erika Robuck
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  NAL Trade
Publication Date:  May 7, 2013
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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