The Gatsby Affair: Scott, Zelda, and the Betrayal that Shaped an American Classic

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While the line, “Rich girls don’t marry poor boys,” isn’t actually in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby, that line is in at least one film version and is a perfect summation of Fitzgerald’s personal mythology as it appears in his most famous book. What Kendall Taylor does in her latest book The Gatsby Affair is masterful in her examination of the rich girl—Zelda Sayre—who did marry the poor boy—Fitzgerald—but whose love was as much about betrayal and pain as it was about joy and celebration.

Taylor’s book focuses on one specific betrayal, Zelda’s affair with French pilot Edouard Jozan. Taylor suggest this affair is the secret to understanding Fitzgerald’s iconic novel. The book begins with an exhaustive chronology showing the progression of Fitzgerald, Sayre, and Jozan’s lives. From there, Taylor enters the story on the night Sayre and Fitzgerald met. Her prose is passionate, dense, and masterful in its revelation of the immediate attraction between the two. Their courtship was lengthy and smattered with hiccups as Sayre, in particular, enjoyed the attention she got from other suitors and was accustomed to a certain way of life thanks to her wealthy family, a way of life the working-class Fitzgerald wasn’t going to be able to provide her unless his literary career took off.

What is most surprising about Taylor’s book is its focus on darker moments in Zelda’s past as illuminations into some of her behaviors. An assault as a young woman, Taylor posits, had a profound impact on Sayre’s need to feel desired by men, and that need was satisfied in her affairs, specifically the fiery but short-lived affair she conducted with Jozan, the debonair French pilot, in the summer of 1924.

For fans of Fitzgerald’s work, or those just interested in exploring the difficult and tragic love lives of two of America’s literary giants, The Gatsby Affair is a must read.

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Author Kendall Taylor
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 320 pages
Publisher Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date 2018-Aug-08
ISBN 9781538104934 Buy this Book
Issue September 2018
Category Reference


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