Linda Wagner-Martin has created a new kind of biography of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: Zelda's story from her perspective, instead of her famous husband's. This is the first biography to tell her entire life story, describing what it meant to be born in 1900, and then to be a "New Woman" in Montgomery, Alabama. Featuring for the first time information from the newly available archives at Princeton, Wagner-Martin vividly illustrates Zelda's psychiatric landscape. Detailed discussions of the roots of alcoholism and infidelity are juxtaposed with the first comprehensive critiques of Zelda's diverse artistic accomplishments as a dancer, short story writer, essayist and novelist. This is an evocative portrayal of a talented woman's professional and emotional conflicts, a story with as much relevance today as it had half a century ago.
'Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: An American Woman's Story is our fullest portrait yet of one of the twentieth century's most intriguing and idiosyncratic women. Linda Wagner-Martin's sympathetic and incisive account changes our image of Zelda from devil-may-care flapper to Southern Belle, from lunatic to professional woman, from hysteric to talented writer. Ballerina, author, mother, and wife, Zelda was the product of a specific time and place. This cultural biography at long last helps us to locate Zelda within an unfolding history of American women's social, sexual, and artistic practices.' - Cathy N. Davidson, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies and Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English, Duke University, USA
'Wagner-Martin has done more research into the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and brought greater intelligence to its interpretation than anyone else. She captures what it was like to grow up a belle in Montgomery, Alabama. She demonstrates how abuse of alcohol, by both parties, impaired Zelda's marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald. And in an excellent and sensitive reading of voluminous correspondence, some of it available for the first time here, she effectively challenges the easy conclusion that Zelda was a victim of 'madness', a word often used to undermine her value as a human being. Anyone who wants to understand how it was with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald will learn a great deal from this book.' - Scott Donaldson, author of the Fitzgerald biography, A Fool for Love and Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald
'Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald wanted it all: husband, family, work - along with glamour, fame and creative success. In the psychiatric terms of her time, she was a woman who did not know her place. And she paid an awful price. The question is - would things have been any easier for her today? Once more Linda Wagner-Martin maps the ups and downs of a woman's life in thought provoking and illuminating ways...' - Dale Spender, Adjunct Professor, University of Queensland, Australia
'Prolific literary biographer Wagner-Martin (Sylvia Plath, etc.) utilizes newly available files at Princeton for this fresh reassessment of F. Scott Fitzgerald's flamboyant, creative, troubled wife, stressing that Zelda's personality and character were shaped by her Southern upbringing and her relationship with her parents....Wagner-Martin's sturdy analysis does much to dispel the myth that the necessity of coping with Zelda's mental problems was Scott's tragic nemesis...' - Publishers Weekly
'A prolific author, Wagner-Martin has written biographical and critical studies of many American writers, including Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway and Anne Sexton. Her work in this book, as in many of those previous efforts, excels in its efficiency, clarity and readability.' - Charity Vogel, Buffalo News