Fans of Paula McLain's The Paris Wife (M) will definitely want to pick up Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald (M) by Therese Anne Fowler which imagines the life of Zelda Fitzgerald through her own thoughts and words.
Zelda Sayre, a well to do southern girl growing up in the turn of the century, meets and marries dashing F. Scott Fitzgerald.They were a golden couple in the literary world of the 1920s carefully marketing their image and proud of being trendsetters. If they were alive today, their public appearances would probably be managed by a public relations agency. Their excessive drinking and escapades took an enormous toll both of them physically, emotionally and artistically.
Hers was a life of restraints. The youngest by far of all her siblings, she had more freedom than they, but her young life was still controlled by both her parents and by the strictures of southern society. She was restrained in her marriage. She had no control, or knowledge of really, their finances or where they might live or what she might do. When she published her stories they were under both her's and Fitzgerald's names ostensibly to ensure their financial success. Literary historians have debated whether Fitzgerald treated Zelda cruelly or whether Zelda's excessive behavior and mental illness were an emotional and creative drain on Fitzgerald. Fowler presents a picture of Zelda as a woman who though deeply in love, was worn down by the constraints of society, demands of her husband, her own mental illness and maltreatment at the hands of psychiatrists.
If you enjoy fictional biographies you might also wish to try Loving Frank (M) by Nancy Horan. "In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright. Drawing on years of research, Horan weaves little-known facts into a compelling narrative, vividly portraying the conflicts and struggles of a woman forced to choose between the roles of mother, wife, lover, and intellectual. Horan’s Mamah is a woman seeking to find her own place, her own creative calling in the world. Mamah’s is an unforgettable journey marked by choices that reshape her notions of love and responsibility, leading inexorably ultimately lead to this novel’s stunning conclusion. Elegantly written and remarkably rich in detail, Loving Frank is a fitting tribute to a courageous woman, a national icon, and their timeless love story." publisher