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Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

Julianna Haubner joined the editorial team at Simon & Schuster in September 2014. A lifelong reader, she is most drawn to literary fiction, biography, cultural history, and narrative non-fiction; it’s her firm belief that every human should own a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and EMPIRE FALLS is the book that changed her life. When Julianna’s not reading and reviewing, she’s downloading podcast episodes as if there are more than 24 hours in a day, watching Bravo, baking, and running the Off the Shelf Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @jhaubner2.

For almost a century, the world (this list writer included!) has been fascinated by Zelda Fitzgerald, the tempestuous and troubled wife of one of America’s most beloved writers. The epitome of a flapper, her legacy of rebellion and glamour are practically synonymous with the era. Now it seems that she’s getting the credit she deserves with a miniseries to bring her story to life. Here are some binge-worthy books about Zelda Fitzgerald to keep you going long after the finale.


Gatsby's Girl
by Caroline Preston

It seems odd to start a list about Zelda Fitzgerald with a book that isn’t about her, but Caroline Preston’s novel is equally important, as it revolves around the first love of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life, Ginevra. The two met while Scott was a student at Princeton and she is thought to have inspired the character of Daisy Buchanan. Preston imagines Ginevra’s life after their relationship, as she marries another man, becomes a mother, and watches her former love ascend and then, just as quickly, fall from grace.

Gatsby's Girl
Caroline Preston

It seems odd to start a list about Zelda Fitzgerald with a book that isn’t about her, but Caroline Preston’s novel is equally important, as it revolves around the first love of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life, Ginevra. The two met while Scott was a student at Princeton and she is thought to have inspired the character of Daisy Buchanan. Preston imagines Ginevra’s life after their relationship, as she marries another man, becomes a mother, and watches her former love ascend and then, just as quickly, fall from grace.

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Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

By Julianna Haubner | March 7, 2017

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Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
by Therese Anne Fowler
Therese Anne Fowler’s Z, which inspired Amazon’s new series, tells the story of how the reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre became the iconic Zelda Fitzgerald. The novel opens with her introduction to tall, handsome Scott, whom she quickly marries, and chronicles her life of parties, novels, scandal, and, ultimately, tragedy that takes the reader from Alabama to Paris, New York to Hollywood, the French Riviera and back again.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Therese Anne Fowler

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1918, the “ungettable” Zelda falls for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or even a Southerner, and he keeps insisting that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. What comes next, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time.

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Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

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Villa America
by Liza Klaussmann

Though expats Sara and Gerald Murphy are rarely remembered alongside their more famous counterparts, the Fitzgeralds and the Hemingways, they played vital roles in the Lost Generation. VILLA AMERICA vividly brings to life the lavish paradise of champagne, romance, and secrets on the French Riviera that they created for themselves and their friends, until a young American aviator arrived and changed everything.

Villa America
Liza Klaussmann

Though expats Sara and Gerald Murphy are rarely remembered alongside their more famous counterparts, the Fitzgeralds and the Hemingways, they played vital roles in the Lost Generation. VILLA AMERICA vividly brings to life the lavish paradise of champagne, romance, and secrets on the French Riviera that they created for themselves and their friends, until a young American aviator arrived and changed everything.

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Zelda
by Nancy Milford
In Zelda Fitzgerald’s case, sometimes truth is more exciting than fiction. Nancy Milford’s bestselling biography covers Zelda’s entire life, focusing on the clash between her personal ambition and private struggles, and is one of the most comprehensive works on literature’s most misunderstood heroine.
Zelda
Nancy Milford

Though she’s known best for her famous husband and infamous partying spirit, Zelda Fitzgerald’s story has much more to offer. A gifted writer and creative talent in her own right, she struggled constantly with the public persona she felt she had to maintain. A closer look at the woman who epitomized the Jazz Age would be a blockbuster for sure.

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Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

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Careless People
by Sarah Churchwell
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald was at the height of his fame and about to publish his fourth book. About the same time he returned to New York, the discovery of a brutal double murder made headlines in nearby New Jersey and was thought to be the inspiration for Fitzgerald’s most enduring work, THE GREAT GATSBY. Part biography, part literary investigation, CARELESS PEOPLE tells a fascinating backstory that interweaves the Fitzgeralds with the world around them.
Careless People
Sarah Churchwell

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Guests on Earth
by Lee Smith
When Evalina Toussaint, orphaned and only 13 years old, is committed to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, she is taken under the wing of its most famous patient, Zelda Fitzgerald. As she undergoes “innovative” treatments and moves between the worlds of art and madness, Evalina learns more about her famous friend and witnesses a cascade of events that culminates in the tragic fire that will take Zelda’s life.
Guests on Earth
Lee Smith

In a seamless blending of fiction and fact, GUESTS ON EARTH tells the story of Evalina, an orphaned thirteen-year-old who is admitted to a mental institution in North Carolina in 1936 where she is taken under the wing of Highland Hospital’s most notable patient, Zelda Fitzgerald.

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Flappers
by Judith Mackrell

If all of Zelda’s shenanigans have you feeling a bit rebellious, Judith Mackrell’s group biography of six women who defined the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald included, will be the perfect pick. Though they came from vastly different backgrounds, they all collided in Jazz Age Paris, where they challenged conventions and changed the definition of what it means to be a modern woman.

Flappers
Judith Mackrell

If all of Zelda’s shenanigans have you feeling a bit rebellious, Judith Mackrell’s group biography of six women who defined the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald included, will be the perfect pick. Though they came from vastly different backgrounds, they all collided in Jazz Age Paris, where they challenged conventions and changed the definition of what it means to be a modern woman.

MENTIONED IN:

Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

By Julianna Haubner | March 7, 2017

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Call Me Zelda
by Erika Robuck

Zelda’s breakdowns and tragic end are a big part of her legend. CALL ME ZELDA confronts her difficult time in a Baltimore clinic in 1932 through the eyes of a nurse, Anna Howard. As she watches Zelda move between madness and lucidity, Anna becomes privy to her most intimate confessions and memories, which leads her to wonder who the true genius in the Fitzgerald marriage was.

Call Me Zelda
Erika Robuck

Zelda’s breakdowns and tragic end are a big part of her legend. CALL ME ZELDA confronts her difficult time in a Baltimore clinic in 1932 through the eyes of a nurse, Anna Howard. As she watches Zelda move between madness and lucidity, Anna becomes privy to her most intimate confessions and memories, which leads her to wonder who the true genius in the Fitzgerald marriage was.

MENTIONED IN:

Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

By Julianna Haubner | March 7, 2017

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Beautiful Fools
by R. Clifton Spargo

Was Zelda destined for madness, or did the Fitzgeralds’ dysfunctional relationship lead to her undoing? R. Clifton Spargo seeks to answer this question in his heartbreaking novel, BEAUTIFUL FOOLS. Despite the fact that he has been living in Hollywood and having a long-term affair, Scott takes Zelda to Cuba for one last trip in an attempt to save their relationship.

Beautiful Fools
R. Clifton Spargo

Was Zelda destined for madness, or did the Fitzgeralds’ dysfunctional relationship lead to her undoing? R. Clifton Spargo seeks to answer this question in his heartbreaking novel, BEAUTIFUL FOOLS. Despite the fact that he has been living in Hollywood and having a long-term affair, Scott takes Zelda to Cuba for one last trip in an attempt to save their relationship.

MENTIONED IN:

Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

By Julianna Haubner | March 7, 2017

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West of Sunset
by Stewart O'Nan
In 1939, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, out-of-work writer who moved to Hollywood in search of screenwriting work. He would be dead three years later, and Stewart O’Nan’s novel imagines the period beautifully, if not sadly. Though Zelda rarely appears (she had been committed to an asylum during this period), her absence is palpable throughout the novel and really brings Scott’s devotion and guilt about her condition to the forefront.
West of Sunset
Stewart O'Nan

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Hollywood has long been the land of dreams and epic storytelling, but many stories of scandal, betrayal, and mystery remain behind the curtain. It’s no wonder that novels inspired by the gossip and intrigue of Tinseltown are so exciting to read. Travel to the golden age of Hollywood with these enchanting, glittering, and sometimes dark tales behind the scenes of your favorite silver-screen legends.

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The Beautiful and Damned
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s generally believed that Scott and Zelda’s relationship inspired THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED, which followed his massive hit TENDER IS THE NIGHT. Anthony Patch, an Army serviceman and heir to a tycoon’s fortune, meets and marries the wild, passionate (and sometimes selfish) Gloria Gilbert. What follows is a roller-coaster relationship that rivals its real-life counterpart.

The Beautiful and Damned
F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s generally believed that Scott and Zelda’s relationship inspired THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED, which followed his massive hit TENDER IS THE NIGHT. Anthony Patch, an Army serviceman and heir to a tycoon’s fortune, meets and marries the wild, passionate (and sometimes selfish) Gloria Gilbert. What follows is a roller-coaster relationship that rivals its real-life counterpart.

MENTIONED IN:

Z Is for Zelda: 11 Novels to Cure Your Fitzgerald Fever

By Julianna Haubner | March 7, 2017

Close

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