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225 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1932
Most people hew the battlements of life from compromise, erecting their impregnable keeps from judicious submissions, fabricating their philosophical drawbridges from emotional retractions and scaulding marauders in the boiling oil of sour grapes.Which, I think is safe to say, does not flow smoothly. The beginning of the novel has (too) many of these overwritten lines, which sometimes feel as if a thesaurus was put to zealous use. In the introduction, Harry T. Moore writes that "the reader who is jarred by the prose at first will find it less turgid beginning about one-third of the way along" and, thankfully, this is true. The novel picks up about about a third of the way in, both in terms of the writing and as a story. While I can't honestly say that the novel is great, there are certainly moments when the metaphors Zelda uses (when she does not overuse them) startle and resonate; and her charm shines all the way through, giving the reader a glimpse into her mind, her life, and her relationship with her husband. So overall, despite what might be called technical weaknesses, the novel was definitely worth reading. To compare it to her husband's work is, I think, unfair - at least in terms of literary quality. However, as far as Zelda's experiences and her expression of those experiences go, they are as valuable as Scott's.
"The swing creaks on Austin's porch, a luminous beetle swings ferociously over the clematis, insects swarm to the golden holocaust of the hall light. Shadows brush the Southern night like heavy, impregnated mops soaking its oblivion back to the black heat whence it evolved. Melancholic moon-vines trail dark, absorbent pads over the string trellises." p. 3
"A growing feeling of alarm in Alabama for their relationship had tightened itself to a set determination to get on with her work. Pulling the skeleton of herself over a loom of attitude and arabesque she tried to weave the strength of her father and the young beauty of her first love with David." p. 133