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Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage
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Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  313 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Irresistibly charming, recklessly brilliant, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald epitomized everything that was beautiful and damned about the Jazz Age. But behind the legend, there was a highly complex and competitive marriage–a union not of opposites but almost of twins who both inspired and tormented each other, and who were ultimately destroyed by their shared fantasies. Now in ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published August 28th 2001)
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Aug 14, 2010 Denis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taylor's biography of the mythical Fitzgerald couple is a fascinating read - although probably a biased one, and certainly not the last word on two extraordinary figures. The huge work she has undertaken (most of all, researches of all kinds that gives her book a spectacular scope) is admirable, and it helps in bringing vividly to life, from beginning to end, the tumultuous relationship of Scott and Zelda. Here are two complex persons that, for better and for worse, have become emblematic of the ...more
Sandra Ross
May 25, 2015 Sandra Ross rated it it was amazing
Wow! Where to begin?

Let's start with Scott.

I personally never cared much for the writers of the Lost Generation. The two biggest luminaries - who hated each other - were Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was misogyny and ego on steroids (the closest he ever got to being a human as an author was "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," which is actually one of my favorite books of all time) in general.

Fitzgerald's writing always struck me as the thinking and perceptions of a wannabe (he never
Aug 24, 2010 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed this book a lot--it's well-written and moves along at a good clip (occassionally Taylor repeats a piece of information within a few pages, each time presenting it as if it's new information, which was a tiny bit annoying, but she only does it a handful of times). I actually feel that I learned more about Zelda from this book than from Mitford's famous biography. It's still tough to know whether she was genuinely mentally ill (it sounded more like a bipolar disorder than true schizophre ...more
Aug 16, 2012 zespri rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Having just finished "the Paris Wife' which was the story of the marriage of Hemingway and Hadley, I requested this book from our library to fill in a few more details of the era of 'the Lost Generation". This book explores the marriage of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, who were part of the artistic elite of the time.

This book has such a comprehensive bibliography that there is plenty more scope to quell my fascination, the author has researched thoroughly and provides so much in
Jun 18, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
This book was a fantastic, if heartbreaking, look at the marriage of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Too often, Zelda is given short shrift as being a sad, pathetic sufferer of mental illness, when she was in reality the key to Scott's success, and (unfortunately) the other half of his folie a deux.

The damage that Scott and Zelda did to each other, to their friends and families, and most of all, to their only daughter, is laid bare in this book, and so is their individual and combined genius. Highl
Aug 04, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
I have to be honest. My inspiration for reading this one was a recent Woody Allen movie, "Midnight in Paris." I really wanted to read about the expatriates of the twenties, and I discovered this book and figured it would do. The moment I began I was captivated by the stories of Scott and Zelda. Admittedly, this is not the most uplifting book, but it seems well-researched and tells a wild and interesting tale.
Celene Swagler
Aug 03, 2011 Celene Swagler added it
Shelves: own
This book reveals the very interesting and combative dynamic between two very troubled artists and their rise and tragic fall.
Taylor Middleton
Jun 18, 2011 Taylor Middleton rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, a tragically flawed couple
Feb 06, 2017 Marialyce rated it it was amazing
Such a sad telling of two people who had they world at their fingertips and yet lost everything. This is one of those books that make you realize that oftentimes fact is so much better than fiction. I must say I consider F. Scott to have been a real cad and developed a more intense dislike as the story continued. It was his intense desire, coupled with copious amounts of liquor, to always be the one that counted more in this relationship. He just could not let Zelda possibly succeed on her own. ...more
Amanda McDougle
Oct 07, 2012 Amanda McDougle rated it it was amazing
I read this book during the summer of 2011, and I was shocked that F. Scott used Zelda's personal journal entries as his own writings. Before meeting F. Scott, Zelda was an eccentric person. Zelda embarked on athletic activities, plays, ballets, and dance. F. Scott, on the other hand, was a Princeton drop out. After marriage, the couple moved more times than any person does during an entire life. F. Scott describes the marriage as miserable and shields their child, Scotty, from her mother's ment ...more
Gurushakti Noriega
Nov 23, 2013 Gurushakti Noriega rated it it was amazing
This book shone a bright light for me regarding the couple. I knew Zelda had gone crazy, but I really had no idea that it was that serious. I just took it for granted. Of course, it made me question why we idealize these two individuals, which in fact were just ordinary people drinking themselves to death. I don't think I would have been their friend. They were a bit too wild for me. Who knows? They probably would have charmed me into their whirlwind like they did almost every one they met.

Dec 03, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
"Behind every successful man, there's a woman" never rings more true than in this expertly researched and written biography of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald wife of F. Scott. If you don't wish to have your opinion of Mr. Fitzgerald tarnished, don't read Sometimes Madness is Wisdom. Otherwise, you will learn how three of his primary heroines wouldn't have existed without Zelda. He lifted entire passages of her diary to build his female characters and he used highly confidential medical records to pad hi ...more
Feb 08, 2017 Darby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-non-fiction
The best of the Zelda biographies. Very factual and not as sensational as some. Z is a great story and this book is the details behind the curtain.
Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa)
Jun 20, 2009 Lisa (Bookworm Lisa) rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
I picked this book up from my local library as part of an adult summer reading program. I had just finished reading the Great Gatsby and thought it might be interesting

I must say that I found the book to be well researched and written. The lives of Zelda and Scott are fascinating. It is very sad to see such wasted talent fall to the abuse of alcohol and the love of attention and a good time.

I am giving three stars to all the side detail. More info was given than needed to be of the other charact
Cydni Perkins
Aug 04, 2012 Cydni Perkins rated it it was amazing
Legend has it that this book contains a lot of information that Scottie (understandably) tried to suppress about her parents, based on Scott's horror at the thought of a tell-all about him. Previous biographies left much of the story out in order to retain Scottie's approval, but this one includes the gory details. It is not, however, just salacious gossip. The author really seeks to understand these troubled people and manages to find the humanity in their story. I would recommend it to people ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Hanes
Explanation by Zelda of her withdrawal into madness, presumably to save herself from Scott's domination in her life. Do not think I can get through this one, presumably an analysis of their relationship but thus far another recounting of events in her life. This author defines her mental troubles as schizophrenia. I disagree with that, seeing her as an affective disorder, albeit with definite psychotic periods. Also going through the 1982 book on Scott by the well known M. Bruccoli: SOME SORT OF ...more
Aug 01, 2013 Katrina rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
The size of the book intimidated me and I was surprised to find it was only around 400 pages. Most of the beginning was devoted to the boys Zelda dated before she met Scott - to show different Scott was from them, I guess? It was fun at first, then I became shocked at how often Scott was drunk, and I hadn't known that Zelda was schizophrenic. This book was very well researched - so well that I became gloomier and gloomier the more I learned about their lives.
Nov 30, 2011 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Considering what fascinating subject material the Fitzgeralds were I must admit to finding this book a little dull in parts. Though it was obviously meticulously researched I felt that the narrative became bogged down by too much superfluous information - especially the excessive biographical detail given on merely peripheral characters. Nonetheless the sheer brilliance and tragedy of Zelda and Scotts life together ultimately made for an interesting enough read.
Jan 25, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it
After reading "Cruise of the Rolling Junk," which was written when Scott and Zelda were first married, I wanted to read about the rest of their lives together. Of course, I'm reading the book backwards so I read the chapter entitled, "The End of the Story" last night. I looked through Zelda's illustrated bio, which included her paintings. Apparently, many of them were destroyed but there is enough to fill a book.
Aug 07, 2008 Claudia rated it liked it
This was an interesting read since I didn't know anything about Zelda. I think it outlined the different artistic roles of women and men then; specifically how it was established between Zelda and Fitz. While reading it I became annoyed a Scott, similarly the way I was anoyed by Hemingway. He came across as insecure, whiny, unsure of himself, needy....And painted against a manic Zelda, I'd much rather experience her highs and lows, rather than deal with pussy footin' Fitzgerald.
Stephanie Knudson
Sep 24, 2014 Stephanie Knudson rated it liked it
Sometimes when you read biographies like this, it influences how you read the the subject's own novels and how accurate they are to the author's own life. If you love Fitzgerald, then this may alter your opinion of him. Because for some, he is considered one of the greatest literary figures of all time, but after reading this, you're not quite sure if you really like him anymore....
Vicki Luschek
Jan 08, 2014 Vicki Luschek rated it really liked it
This book by Kendall Taylor is an extensive look at Zelda and Scott's Marriage. Very detailed and well documented. Taylor Ph.D. is a cultural historian and seems to know her stuff. After reading this thorough account of the Fitzgerald's marriage, one wonders if Scott could have written his Jazz Age novels without Zelda. Sometimes tedious but well written.
Jenn Munt
Sep 16, 2013 Jenn Munt rated it it was amazing
Though dry at times, this book treats Zelda Fitzgerald as the main character, telling the story of her reckless youth and eventual collapse. The culprit of her collapse is Scott; he manipulates her and uses their life story (including material lifted verbatim from her diaries) as inspiration for his work. The story is compelling.
Laurie Stoll
Jul 29, 2014 Laurie Stoll rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
First, let me say that this was well before my time.

Although this book is over 400 pages long there are only seven chapters. This book should have been broken up more.

Also, I found this book to read more like a text book about an uninteresting subject.

The last chapter and a half were better than the entire book.
Gabriele Wills
This biography certainly evokes the period and gives us insight into this famous couple. Since I found them rather unsympathetic people - too caught up in their own brilliance and celebrity - it was a bit of a chore to keep reading. That's not to say that the author hasn't done a good job - possibly quite the opposite.
Aug 12, 2015 Laurie rated it liked it
A very interesting and heavily researched study (with lots of primary source material) of the Fitzgerald's lives and marriage. Taylor is very sympathetic to Zelda putting lots of blame on Scott for his wife's many problems. Good book for our discussion group.
Apr 30, 2013 Sandie rated it liked it
An apt title for this study of an iconic woman. The author did a great job of researching Zelda's tragic tale. She had so much more creative talent than her pitiful husband. But too much bathtub gin made a lethal cocktail when mixed with Scot's insecurities and Zelda's artistic mania.
Apr 24, 2008 Alicia rated it really liked it
I admit it- their lives fascinate me. The potential, the passion, the devotion, the tragedy. Such greatness, such waste. This book came across as being more objective than the others I have read. I may read it again:)
Jul 05, 2015 Oldgaol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
will never read Fitzgerald through the same eyes again.
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