After coming clean about her feelings for another man, Zelda agrees to work on her relationship with Scott and the two leave for Paris. Despite their newfound dedication, the stress brought on by Zelda's rising health problems and Scott's new friend Ernest Hemingway drives them apart once again.
What I Liked:
- Zelda's Take on Hemingway: I apologize in advance to any fans out there but I have hated Hemingway since I first learned about him in English class in High School. When my English teacher discussed his biography with my class I thought he sounded like a self absorbed egotistical prick...so it's pretty entertaining to read all of Zelda's insults towards him, especially her summaries of his writing, which are pretty in line with my own opinions...try to hard and too much emphasis on "masculinity".
- Expatriate Europe: I did an undergrad research project on expatriate writers so one of the things that I've been looking forward to the most as I've read this novel is the presentation of the "Lost Generation" of American writers who fled to Europe to write. Each passing mention of a name was a source of excitement for me. I just wish that there was more discussion on just why they left (an escape of America's emphasis on traditional customs and at times "stodgy" values was at times more of a draw than just cheaper living expenses).
- A Developing Independence: Zelda's almost constant lack of backbone has been one of the worst things about this novel, so in this unit when we see her start to put her own interests ahead of standing on the sidelines cheering on Scott that was a big improvement. Though its frustrating that even then her plans never seem to come to fruition, I did love the scene she makes on page 249.
What I Didn't Like:
- Stagnant Storytelling: I have to admit, the middle portion of this book has been really difficult to get through. It seems like we are reading the same thing over and over. Scott goes off the rails, does something inexcusable, Zelda develops a backbone for two minutes and stands up to him, he promises to be better, she accepts his apology even though she knows it won't last, and the whole thing starts over again. Then there is the summary style prose, which while not inherently bad, doesn't help matters much, as I feel like a lot of things get glossed over that would have been more interesting to read than endless details of the latest party.
- Scott and Women: One of the most confusing things about this story is how Scott goes from being absolutely dedicated to Zelda and wanting her to be his teammate to wanting her to stay in the background and becoming this crazy womanizer...My problem with Scott in this novel is not only his lack of loyalty to his wife, but also his misogynistic tendencies and his oppression of Zelda.
- Hemingway Himself: I know that this novel is fictional and most of the conversations never happened and there's a lot of artistic liberty taken...but man....I hate Hemingway...
- What do you think of Fowler's take on Hemingway and the rest of the Lost Generation?
- Was there any moment in this week's reading that you felt was glossed over and should have been given more detail?
- What else did you notice in this week's reading that you would like to bring up for discussion or clarification?