Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Call Me Zelda

Whether you're excited by the glitz and glamour of the new Gatsby movie, or you think it's going to be a frenzy of hype and excess, we recommend you check out a wonderful new novel, Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck.

Call Me Zelda isn't just another book about Zelda Fitzgerald. It's the richly imagined story of a psychiatric nurse, Anna Howard, who served Zelda during her years in Baltimore "after the party." It is Anna's story more than Zelda's, as we get to see how Anna's life is transformed by her relationship with Zelda and Scott.

Anna struggles to keep her own footing as she becomes increasingly involved in the celebrities' lives. Zelda is admitted to the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in 1932 where Anna is a nurse. Anna has suffered her own tragedies, having lost her husband in the war and their young daughter in the influenza epidemic, but rather than face her own sadness and survivor's guilt, Anna is consumed by the need to help Zelda. She is eventually hired to be Zelda's private nurse when Zelda moves out of Phipps and into their private home just outside of Baltimore (in true Gatsby style, the house has it's own French name: La Paix). Scott and Zelda's relationship is toxic and Zelda is deeply troubled, but Anna is determined to help Zelda find some peace and happiness. The wake behind the Fitzgeralds' celebrity lives is indeed very choppy and you worry that Anna will get lost in it.

We all know that Zelda and Scott's story ends in tragedy. But you will hope that Anna's doesn't. Will she be redeemed by her dedication to Zelda, and ultimately find a way to live her own life, or will she become another "Woman Upstairs" who loses herself by living vicariously through others?

Call Me Zelda: May Staff Pick at The Bookstore.

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