After watching the Amazon series, “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the book. The two-day wait for my paperback copy of Terese Fowler’s novel, Z: The Beginning of Everything, nearly drove me crazy. Having binge watched the entire season of the Amazon series in two days, I couldn’t wait to find out how the magical love story of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald would play out.
Once my paperback edition of the novel arrived I dove right in. I was familiar with the first few chapters as the series had covered that material. As I read further though, the storyline and plot began to take on a different tone. No longer was Zelda narrating about fabulous New York City parties or lavish shopping trips where she was showered with attention and material goods. Instead, Zelda was now telling a darker tale. A tale that included adultery, alcoholism, mental illness, domestic abuse, infertility, abortion, and financial ruin.
While it is evident in both the series and the novel that Zelda and F. Scott were madly in love with each other, I would hardly call their story a love story. Rather, I would call it a tragedy. So close to perfection they were; young, talented, rich, and in love. But even that couldn’t stop them from ruining eachother through their mutual alcoholism, mental illness, and adultery.
Perhaps the most tragic of their story is Zelda’s untimely and unfair (poetic if nothing else) death. Having been treated for “manic episodes” many times during her adult life, Zelda had checked herself into a hospital for routine maintenance of her condition. Returning from a dance one evening, she took her hospital mandated sleeping sedative and went to bed; never to wake again. Zelda was killed in a fire that very night.
Nobody truly knows what would’ve become of Zelda or F. Scott had they not met and fallen in love. Perhaps though, Zelda wouldn’t have ended up sedated in a mental institution to the point that she couldn’t escape the fire that would ultimately deliver her to her too soon, tragic death.