The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Published by Viking Adult
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

This novel is absolutely everywhere right now so you probably already know what it’s about. But honestly, any summary I could provide wouldn’t do it justice, so in case you’re unfamiliar with the novel here is the publisher’s summary:

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten-year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

The Invention of Wings is a sweeping novel that takes place over the course of several decades, at a time in American history we aren’t too proud of as a nation, but also a time when great change was just around the corner. Sue Monk Kidd took this very real historical figure, Sarah Grimke, and fabricated another character (Handful) and created a truly remarkable piece of fiction. There was a lot to love about this book, and before I get into that, let me be honest about what was less than perfect about it for me.

I had a really difficult time connecting to most of the characters, if I’m being completely honest. While I admired Sarah, especially throughout the second half of the book, there was something missing for me in terms of how I was able to emotionally connect with her. With Handful my connection was more immediate and much easier, but as her life was so unimaginably awful and difficult, it was almost painful for me to feel that deep connection – like I wanted to shy away from it, her painful life was just too raw and real for me. And every member of the Grimke family besides Sarah was awful – it was difficult for me to read a book with SO many horrible people. I completely understand why these books are important and we need to read them to confront the truth of what our history as a nation is, but it was hard for me to love the book given my difficulty with the characters.

That said, The Invention of Wings is really a wonderful novel. There is SO much history here, and there is an author’s note at the end where she explains what is real and what is her imagination, and so much of what is in the book is based on real events! Many of the scenes in the book that were so painful to read were inspired by historical events that the author learned about while doing research for the novel. Obviously, it’s difficult to read about the specific ways slaves were abused, which I understand is the point – we must confront this stuff and accept that we as a people did this to other human beings. But it’s not easy to read, I’m telling you.

I loved how much time the book covered, as you really get to see the changes in society over the course of the novel. Things don’t end with perfection, but it’s clear that we’re getting somewhere as a country by the time Sarah is an older woman. She worked tirelessly in her adult years for equality of both slaves and women, and I loved seeing how that work affected the country in positive ways through her lifetime.

Ultimately this is a story about two very different women, growing up in the same household but who couldn’t possibly have more opposite experiences, and the strength and power both women found within themselves over the course of their lifetimes. Sarah and Handful couldn’t be more different, but in the end they spend most of their lives searching for the same thing – freedom and the power that comes from that freedom. Whether or not they find it, and how they attempt to do so, is sort of the point of the book.

Sue Monk Kidd’s writing is gorgeous, she truly brings this time period and the story alive with her words. I really enjoyed the book in many ways and I can see why it’s getting such praise. Even though I didn’t fall in love with the characters, this is an extremely powerful story and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Comeback Love by Peter Golden

Comeback LoveComeback Love by Peter Golden
Published by Washington Square Press
Review copy received at SIBA 2012

Gordon Meyers is en route to his sister’s home to deal with a family catastrophe when he decides to detour to see an old flame, Glenna Rising, and surprises her at her Manhattan pediatrics practice. Thirty-five years earlier, in the 1960′s, the two lived the greatest love story of each of their lives, until its shattering conclusion and emotionally charged breakup. As the two meet for a drink, Glenna tries to learn the real reason Gordon came to visit her, and old secrets and hurts are brought to the surface as the two of them rediscover their feelings all over again.

Why did I wait so long to read this book? I’ve had it since September 2012 and it was so good I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t this beautiful love story, one fraught with challenges and issues and sticky, hard situations but with two people at its center who had the kind of all-consuming love that is undeniable and inescapable.

One thing I loved so much about Comeback Love is that Golden managed to weave so much history into what is, on the surface, a romance novel. Told mostly in the past, the book spends the majority of its time in the 1960′s, and Glenna is active in the movement to legalize abortion, so there is a lot about that in the book. I loved how Golden explores how personal choices can be so far from one’s beliefs, and even when we want them to match up perfectly, we can’t always reconcile what we believe with what we actually do when faced with decisions of our own. The same can be said about the Vietnam War – Gordon struggles with whether to go to war or to keep himself out of the draft with his student deferments, and then when his own son is of age the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are in full swing and he wants to protect his son from the very same choices he made as a young adult. There’s something so wonderful about getting these bits of history inside such a well-written, character-driven novel.

Even though Gordon and Glenna’s relationship is fraught with complications, and they both make bad choices and all of that, I still really liked them each individually and the two of them together as a couple. It’s hard to really know Glenna, because the book is told from Gordon’s point of view, and the reader therefore only sees her as he does – not as she sees herself – but even still, I liked her and wanted the best for her. Gordon is, of course, a character to root for, but his disastrous choices made me want to shake him at times. There was this crazy magnetic pull between the two of them that really drew me into the novel and kept me turning pages, even when their relationship wasn’t going in a direction that I necessarily wanted for them.

I liked this novel so, so much and I’m annoyed with myself for having waited so long to read it. It is beautifully written, with characters and settings that jump off the pages and right into the reader’s heart. Highly recommended.

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

The Wife, the Maid, and the MistressThe Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Published by Doubleday
Review copy provided by SheReads

In the 1930′s in New York City, New York Supreme Court justice Joseph Crater disappears one night, never to be seen again. Although there’s a ton of speculation on what might have happened to him, the three women who were closest to him – Stella, his wife, Ritzi, a showgirl who’d been sleeping with him, and Maria, the Craters’ maid – might have some information about what happened. But unless the detectives working on the case can crack these women, there is no hope of discovering the truth about the fate of Joseph Crater.

Although in reality, the case of Joseph Crater’s disappearance was never solved, in this unique and captivating novel Lawhon imagines what really happened to him and unwinds the tale in spellbinding, exciting detail. This book is layered and complex, and it isn’t until the very end when the reader fully understands the vision that Lawhon created for these historical figures.

There is so much to love about this novel. The historical setting is absolute perfection and it is full of the quintessential 1930′s elements that are so fascinating to read about - Showgirls, speakeasies, gambling, gangsters – you name it. It was abundantly clear to me that Lawhon really did her research because the setting was done so fantastically, it was so atmospheric and I truly felt that I was there with these characters.

And the characters! What I loved about these women is that although they made terrible choices, choices that had disastrous consequences, they were asserting their power in the only ways available to them at that time. They did exactly what they felt they had to do in order to survive, and thrive, in an incredibly difficult time. Stella seemed the most innocent of the three, at least in the beginning she felt that way, but as the novel goes on, it’s apparent that she is quite a strong and intelligent woman in her own right. Ritzi is probably the most daring, the most cunning, but also the one who made the worst choices, but she’s also the only one of the three who is without a husband and needed to take more desperate measures to protect herself. And Maria made so many choices to take care of and promote her loved ones – you can’t help but admire her for that. I can’t say I loved all three of them equally, but I did truly appreciate them all and loved them in different ways. I most loved that Lawhon created three incredibly flawed characters and got me to truly care about them all, to want the best for them despite their bad decisions and the consequences of their behavior.

I thought the concept behind The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress to be so unique and creative and overall Lawhon did such an excellent job with it. Her vision is one I never would have come up with, but by the end it was the only possible way this story could have ended, the only possible fate for Justice Crater. I couldn’t put this book down and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended!

Mini-reviews – wrapping up 2013 reading part 2

And here are the final four books I read this year and haven’t reviewed.

The LowlandThe Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri – I absolutely loved Lahiri’s short story collections and her first novel, The Namesake, so I was beyond excited for this one. The writing is just as gorgeous as I knew it would be, and she sure can tell a story about strained family dynamics. It gave me a glimpse into politics in India in the 1960′s, a place and time I know very little about. As I was reading, I felt deeply connected to the characters, to these two brothers who were so close as children but grew so far apart in adulthood. The novel is brimming with tragedies, but it never felt heavy-handed, it felt like a true family saga in which the family is struck with bad luck, bad choices, and inability to find peace. I loved The Lowland even though it didn’t quite live up to her earlier books for me – I still gave it five stars! That should tell you how much this author can do no wrong in my eyes.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth – This was one of my most highly anticipated books of this year and overall I did like it. I found the plot to be a bit meandering at times in the middle but the end was satisfying. A lot of people didn’t like the way Roth chose to end the series but I personally thought it was absolutely perfect. After closing the book, I just can’t imagine another way she could have resolved things for these characters. I’m really looking forward to the movie series now!

The Silent WifeThe Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison – This was a book club pick and one I would have read anyway because I was so compelled by the premise. I was expecting to be taken for a ride and I was not disappointed. The one thing everyone at my book club could agree on was that we hated all of the characters. They are selfish, immature, and have zero redeeming qualities to speak of. But despite that I couldn’t put this book down. I read furiously til the end, desperate to know how things would turn out for these despicable people. And the ending was a complete shock and was kind of genius actually. I really liked this one.

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow (Marie Antoinette, #2)Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey – This is a sequel to a book I really loved (Becoming Marie Antoinette) but I have to admit that this one disappointed me. Marie Antoinette came across as incredibly selfish, spoiled, caring little for the people around her and only seeking out her own pleasure. She was so detached from the realities of life beyond Versailles that truthfully it disgusted me. I gained a bit more interest when she begun having children but overall this book was not what I was hoping for. The final book in the trilogy was recently released and honestly I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to it.

Mini-reviews: A Hundred Summers and The Newlyweds

A Hundred SummersA Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
Published by Putnam Adult

I loved this book so much that I don’t have much to say about it. The characters, the historical setting, the drama, the intrigue of the fact that the reader knows the characters have secrets, the romance, and all of that set at the beach! It was the perfect book for me and I couldn’t put it down. I think that so many readers will identify with the main character, as we all have toxic people in our lives that just don’t seem to disappear, but we are somehow drawn to anyway, which is the case for Lily with her “friend” Budgie. I was highly entertained by every aspect of this novel, and it was extremely well-written too. I absolutely look forward to reading Williams’ first book, Overseas, and I highly recommend A Hundred Summers.

The NewlywedsThe Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Published by Knopf

This novel, about Amina, a woman from Bangladesh who marries an American man, George, and leaves everything she’s ever known to be with him in his home in Rochester, New York, charmed me from the beginning. The clash of cultures was evident from the minute Amina stepped off the plane and into George’s arms, and their constant struggles to understand and empathize with one another were just like that of any other married couple – except much more complicated. Not only that, but Amina’s isolation in this foreign land made me feel so much compassion and empathy for her situation – I couldn’t imagine being in a situation like that. Freudenberger does such an excellent job helping the reader get to know and understand both Amina and George, even though the novel is told from Amina’s point of view. I listened to this one and the narrator, Meera Simhan, who was a new voice for me, did an excellent job. I highly recommend The Newlyweds, I fell in love with these characters and Freudenberger’s writing is absolutely great.

Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen's GambitQueen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Published by Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher

From the publisher:

Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen. 

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

So, I was reading another historical fiction novel, this one in a series about the War of the Roses by that popular historical fiction author a lot of people (including me) love and a lot of people love to hate, but for some reason I couldn’t focus on it. I was craving historical fiction, though, so I moved on to Queen’s Gambit, and it was such a great choice. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about Katherine, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife, so it was both educational and compelling to read about this woman I previously knew very little about.

What I liked so much about this book is that while the story had drama and intrigue, the real stars of the show here were the well-crafted characters and the solid writing. Is there such a thing as literary historical fiction? Because that’s exactly what Queen’s Gambit is – historical fiction with a firm basis in excellent writing that holds the reader’s attention and provokes the mind.

That being said, the history in this novel was fascinating to me! Katherine was young when she married the king – not super young, as she’d already been married and widowed twice before, but young enough to still be considered beautiful and bear children and all of that – and Henry was … well, not young, and certainly not beautiful. It’s shocking how the status and power that come with the title of Queen could be so alluring and valuable for Katherine to see past the King’s unattractiveness and old age. I loved learning about how she used this power to her advantage, and even though she behaves herself and does the right things almost all of the time, she was still looking out for herself and her family’s best interests the whole time.

If you are a lover of historical fiction, I cannot more highly recommend Queen’s Gambit. This is a novel featuring a woman in history about whom not very much is written, and it’s well worth your time to read. Highly recommended!

The Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites

The Rebel WifeThe Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites
Published by Simon and Schuster
Review copy received at SIBA 2012

From the publisher:

Augusta Branson was born into antebellum Southern nobility during a time of wealth and prosperity, but now she is left standing in the ashes of a broken civilization. When her scalawag husband dies suddenly of a mysterious illness, she must fend for herself and her young son. Slowly she begins to wake to the reality of her new life: her social standing is stained by her marriage; she is alone and unprotected in a community that is being destroyed by racial prejudice and violence; the fortune she thought she would inherit does not exist; and the deadly fever that killed her husband is spreading fast.

When this book was first released, bloggers were absolutely raving about it. So much raving that when I saw the ARC for the paperback edition at SIBA last year, I HAD to have it. Well I don’t know if it was too-high expectations or something, but The Rebel Wife didn’t wow me like it did for many others.

What I liked was that I haven’t read much historical fiction set in this time period, so it was a fresh place and time for me. And I felt that Polites did post-Civil War South justice – the struggles the characters were facing seemed authentic, I could envision the shattered communities and threat of violence and illness always looming, just waiting to strike on their next victim. Just imagine having your entire life change in a short period of time, especially when you have everything you could possibly want in life and then one second it’s just gone, and that’s what Gus is going through in this novel. I felt that desperation, that awful feeling of dread and of being completely defeated by life, throughout the book.

And I liked Gus too, this incredibly strong woman who has been through hell just to get to another level of the same hell – her life is horrible, as awful as you can imagine, and she’s gone from a sheltered, happy, wealthy existence to this terrifying new world after the war ended. She reminded me a lot of Scarlet from Gone With the Wind (and maybe that’s just because I read so few books in this place and time that caused me to connect the two novels).

However, I found myself bored by the book about halfway through, which is rare for me when I like a main character so much. Also, the book is relatively short, so it should have been action-packed, or at least kept my attention throughout, and for whatever reason, that didn’t happen. It could very well just be me, and maybe I was in a strange place mentally when I read the book which caused me to not be grabbed by it, but there you have it. I wasn’t wowed by The Rebel Wife. Oh well, it happens.

But plenty of other people have loved this one! So if you like historical fiction, it’s definitely worth a try.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Disney Hyperion
Review copy provided by NetGalley

Rose Justice, an American citizen working as a pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II, is traveling back from a secret flight in a semi-dangerous area when she is captured by the Germans. She is immediately taken to Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp for women, and meets an incredible group of women, women who have survived insurmountable odds and continue to do so, as damaged as they are and as disastrously impossible their lives have become.

I had a very interesting reaction to Wein’s first novel, Code Name Verity … I totally didn’t get it, wasn’t into it, until almost at the end of the book where there is a “WOW” moment and everything completely changed for me. I ended up almost loving the book. So I was very excited to read her newest novel, Rose Under Fire, and I have to tell you … I completely loved this one. So much that I don’t think I can find the right words to explain what is so perfect about this book.

First of all, one of the main issues I had with Wein’s first novel is that I found myself very confused during a lot of the beginning, and that does not happen at all in this novel. In this book, Rose is telling her story of being in the concentration camp after she’s already out of it, so it doesn’t have that same sense of urgency and WTF-ery that the first book had. It’s completely clear what is going on and why, and the characters come to life in the regular way they do in novels – you get to know them and fall in love with them right alongside Rose.

Once again, Wein shows readers the power of true, solid, loving female friendships and how powerful women can be when we stick together. This was one of the biggest things I got out of Code Name Verity, and the female friendships in Rose Under Fire are possibly even stronger and more inspiring than those in the first book. These women would do absolutely anything to protect one another, including sacrificing their own lives if it means saving someone else, and to say that they broke my heart a million times with how inspiring they were is an understatement.

There’s so much I loved about this book. Rose is smart, resourceful, kind-hearted, and determined to stay alive and protect her friends. The friendships in the book show the power of strong women sticking together to beat the odds. The awful atrocities portrayed in the novel are difficult to stomach, but these are things that happened not all that long ago, and it’s important that we continue to read about and understand our history as a people…. to know what we are capable of if we don’t actively work against it.

I loved this book. If you were on the fence about Code Name Verity, I strongly encourage you to pick up Rose Under Fire. And if you liked or loved Wein’s first novel, I guarantee you will love this one too.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publisher via She Reads

Grace Monroe is newly married and doesn’t feel at home in her husband’s social circles. It is London in the 1950′s, and there are certain expectations of Grace that she’s not sure she can live up to, with things becoming even more complicated when she suspects her husband of having an affair. So when she receives an inheritance from Eva D’Orsey, a woman she’s never even heard of, let alone met, she jumps at the opportunity to travel to Paris to learn about her mysterious benefactor. As the reader learns more about Eva, so too does Grace, and this journey that she’s on to discover more about this inheritance will change who Grace is as a person in fundamental ways.

I am a major sucker for both women’s fiction and stories with dual narratives, so The Perfume Collector was right up my alley. I actually hadn’t heard of this novel before it was chosen for the She Reads book this month, but once again I have to say thank goodness for She Reads! I really enjoyed this novel and I’m happy I was given the opportunity to discover it.

I liked Grace quite a bit and was intrigued by her story. I was happy for her that she was going out on her own to find out about Eva, she was being adventurous and I was so hoping for her to get to know Eva through the stories of the people she met on her journey. I appreciated the fact that she was unwilling to accept her husband’s bad behavior, especially given the time period the book was set in – I’m pretty sure it was not as socially acceptable in the 1950′s to leave your husband because of infidelity as it is today.

If I liked Grace, though, I LOVED Eva. Her life was incredibly fascinating and I was captivated by her story. The things she experienced, the people she knew, the adventures she had – I was swept up in all of it and I couldn’t wait to learn more about her as I turned the pages. Grace’s story was interesting, yes, but it was Eva’s that kept me coming back for me, that kept me racing through the book. I loved Eva, I admired her, I wanted to get to know her in the present day.

Admittedly, the connection between the two women was pretty obvious to me from very early on, but that didn’t take away too much for me. Personally, The Perfume Collector was more about the journey than the destination, and while I had a pretty good idea of where the story would end up, getting there was totally fun and worth the fact that I wasn’t too surprised by the ending.

I really liked this one! I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by Kathleen Tessaro in the future.

 

Two books about Zelda Fitzgerald: Z and Call Me Zelda

Therese Anne Fowler Z: A Novel of Zelda FitzgeraldZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan
Review copy provided by the publisher

Fowler’s novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, begins when Zelda is just a teenager living in a small Alabama town. Against Zelda’s parents’ wishes, upon Scott’s selling of his first novel to a major publisher, Zelda decides to marry him and follow him along on his journey to fame and fortune. Every place Scott and Zelda inhabit – New York City, Hollywood, Paris – is like a new playground for the two of them, and even the birth of their daughter doesn’t stop the partying and fun that the Jazz Age brings to the golden couple. But Zelda isn’t just Scott’s wife – she has her own success to pursue, her own thoughts and feelings that truly matter, and Fowler brings her to life in this novel in an intense and illuminating way.

See, this is historical fiction at its best. Fowler takes a real person, Zelda Fitzgerald, that the world knows little about (at least, I didn’t know anything about her), and brings her to life in a way that made me want to learn even more about her. After finishing this book, I feel like I know Zelda, the real person who actually lived and breathed and spent so much time in social circles with some of the most iconic American authors in history. But she was so much more than that, and in Fowler’s portrayal of her, she comes across as a determined and strong woman, but loving and devoted wife, and these two aspects of her personality consistently clashed throughout her marriage to Scott.

I really liked this novel and I have to say that I think listening to the audio made me enjoy it even more. Jenna Lamia did an incredible job portraying Zelda, to the point where I felt that Zelda was telling her own story. Ultimately I highly enjoyed Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and can absolutely recommend it.

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

Robuck’s Zelda is a sad, broken woman who has been emotionally scarred from years of being married to the famous F. Scott Fitzgerald. This novel is not told from Zelda’s own perspective, rather it is told by a nurse named Anna Howard, who works at the mental institution where Zelda stays for an extended period of time. Zelda wants desperately to be an independent woman, but she is unable to stay sane for any length of time to do so. In addition, Scott has all but abandoned her, asking the staff at the psychiatric ward to take care of her, and specifically looking for Anna to watch over Zelda and protect her from herself.

Call Me Zelda is a nice choice to read upon finishing Z, because it pretty much begins where Fowler’s novel left off. I have to be honest, though, and disclose that I didn’t like Robuck’s Zelda nearly as much as Fowler’s. The Zelda of Call Me Zelda is not much more than a shell of a person, a woman who isn’t living life at all, but simply existing as she goes from hospital to hospital, sometimes recovering for a few days or even weeks, but always slipping back into intense mania and/or deep depression. As a result, I didn’t feel like I ever got to know her, and it was really difficult for me to root for her to even recover.

Anna, on the other hand, I did care about, but since I was hoping to read about Zelda, this annoyed me a little bit. I wanted to spend more time with Zelda, to get to know her better, to find out how her life turned out in the later years (not so well), but instead I spent so much time with this fictional nurse Anna. I don’t know. Ultimately I was left feeling that Robuck is a talented writer who can really develop her characters (Anna, specifically), but I found myself disappointed in the Zelda (or lack of Zelda) that she presented to the reader. Maybe if I hadn’t read Z first I would have appreciated this more, but the fact remains that I couldn’t help comparing the two novels, with this one finishing in a clear second place.

In conclusion, both books have their merits, but if you are only going to read one book about Zelda Fitzgerald, Z by Therese Anne Fowler is the choice I would most highly recommend.