Thursday, May 23, 2013

Portrait of a Marriage

Intrigued by marriages of the rich and famous? Here’s a timely story, given the newly-released The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler follows the marriage of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald from its riotous beginning to its tragic end. Married in 1920, beautiful, Southern belle Zelda Sayre and handsome, Ivy Leaguer F. Scott Fitzgerald capture the spirit of the scandalous “Roaring Twenties.”  When the extravagant, cash-strapped newlyweds move to Paris, they meet Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.  And here’s where the story really takes off—especially if you’ve read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (another fine novel about a celebrity marriage). The literary rivalry—The Sun Also Rises and The Great Gatsby were published within a year of each other—is  as riveting as the emotional tangles that ensnare both writers and wives.  I liked Z for the all the same reasons I enjoyed The Paris Wife.  It’s a well-researched, engrossing account of what it’s like to be married to a man who fears failure almost as much as he covets success.

Other recent novels that reveal the inside stories behind notable couples include:  The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, which portrays the marriage of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, an account of the clandestine love affair between Mamah Borthwick Cheney and Frank Lloyd Wright, and The Master’s Muse by Varley O’Connor about the marriage of principal ballerina (and polio survivor) Tanaquil Le Clercq to George Balanchine.

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