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West of Sunset

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  2,980 ratings  ·  668 reviews
In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, uncertain man whose literary success was long over. In poor health, with his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruins, he struggled to make a new start as a screenwriter in Hollywood. By December 1940, he would be dead of a heart attack.

Those last three years of Fitzgerald’s life, often obscured by the legend
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Viking
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Glenn Sumi
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
West Of Sunset is Stewart O’Nan’s terribly sad but absorbing novel about the last few years in the life of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This isn’t the glamorous flapper-era Fitzgerald. His jet-setting European days are in the past. He’s no longer the golden boy. He’s in his early 40s now, and broke. (His books, apart from his first, This Side Of Paradise, never sold particularly well.) After years of alcoholism, his body is a wreck. His wife, Zelda, is in a mental institution. His fiesty daughter,
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Lawyer
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of Stewart O"Nan, Those interested in F. Scott Fitzgerald
Recommended to Lawyer by: If O'Nan writes it, I read it.
Gatsby Among the Locusts: Stewart O'Nan's Novel of Fitzgerald in Hollywood

A copy of this novel was provided by Viking Adult through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be published January 13, 2015.

 photo Fitzgerald_1937_zps59c3c6a8.jpg
"There are no second acts in American lives," F.Scott Fitzgerald, found among his notes to his last, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon.


 photo Stewart_O_Nan_zps36a4adb0.jpg
Stewart O'Nan

Stewart O'Nan has written a compelling novel of the last years of F. Scott Fitzgerald and hi
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Angela M
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it

I love The Great Gatsby. In fact, it is probably my all-time favorite book. I also enjoyed Fitzgerald 's other works so I could not resist the chance to read O'Nan's fictionalized account of Fitzgerald's time in Hollywood as a screenwriter during the last few years of his life . The writing is really very good - I can almost see Fitzgerald at this resort hotel in Ashville and then with Zelda on the excursion to celebrate their anniversary. This is a down and out time in their lives - Zelda in a
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Darlene
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
"So we beat on, boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly into the past."
-last line from the novel,
'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald


I have never been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, although I admit that I have read only two of his novels.... 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Tender is the Night'. Perhaps it would be fairer to say that I look at the 1920s (the time period Fitzgerald writes about in some of his novels) with distaste and disgust. Other than the introduction of jazz into the
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Julie
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan is a 2015 Viking publication.

Fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald or those who enjoy tales centered around old Hollywood will find this to be an interesting and poignant read.


The story is pretty gloomy, as the last years of Fitzgerald’s life in Hollywood is fictionalized. Zelda is in an institution suffering through good and bad days, but mostly unable to cope in the outside world for extended periods of time. Fitzgerald is broke and in desperate need of cash in order to
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El
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think everyone (except maybe my boyfriend) goes through a period in their lives where they are completely fascinated by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. At least many of the people I've known. They were a fascinating duo at a fascinating time in American history. O'Nan's story is about the Fitzgeralds, primarily Scott, over the last three years of his life with the occasional flashback. In the late 1930s, Scott is in California working at MGM studios and Zelda is back East confined to a mental h ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
F. Scott Fitzgerald has been canonized as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His oeuvre is not that large (for example, compared to rival Ernest Hemingway)--his 44 years on the planet came and went like a flash in the Jazz Age pan, his glamorized life with Zelda mythologized almost more than his solo presence. When I think of Fitzgerald, I think of Gatsby. How not? But O'Nan captures the screenwriting Fitzgerald, the scenarist whose work in Hollywood is largely unnoticed.

T
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
1.5 Stars and rounding up because I’m feeling generous. I really enjoyed the other book I read by this author (Last Night at the Lobster) but holy crap was this a snoozer! Focusing on the last years of an interesting character in American history’s life where his success had waned and worked a dreary 9-5 and barely even mentioning the Hollywood royalty he was surrounded by was certainly an interesting choice. Unfortunately it did not work at all for me and was a slog to get through 🙁
Diane S ☔
Jul 14, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 I knew very little of Fitzgerald's personal life outside of his and Zelda's relationship so I have no basis for comparison. O'Nan did a fantastic job portraying Hollywood, all the drinking and parties, of this time period. Also thought he did a great job showing how responsible he felt for Zelda's welfare and his daughter's happiness. His relationship with Sheilah seemed to bring him little joy and much guilt. I think that is what threw me off in this novel, the tone basically stayed the sam ...more
Tim
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this earnest book reads like a docudrama, and not a convincing one -- and because the subject, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is so well-known, it never reads like a novel either. I've no doubt that O'Nan did copious research, but he would have served readers better by writing a nonfiction book (I've also no doubt that for a novelist of his standing, such a project would have been unthinkable).

I wonder if the facts become a hindrance for an imaginative writer--that they must constantly rein themse
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Joy D
Covering the years 1937-1940, this book takes readers back in time to a lesser known period in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life – his time in Hollywood as a screen writer. At this point in his life, Fitzgerald’s heyday is behind him. His wife, Zelda, suffering from schizophrenia, is confined to a North Carolina sanitarium. Their teenage daughter, Scottie, resides in an east coast boarding school. We follow his life as he develops a relationship with columnist Sheilah Graham, interacts with various fam ...more
Mary Lins
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: complete
Full disclosure: I love about 95% of Stewart O'Nan's works, fiction and non-fiction; I think he is a terrific writer and researcher and I'm always eager to read his latest offering. Further disclosure: I'm "Meh" on F. Scott Fitzgerald; in particular, I think "The Great Gatsby" is supremely over-rated.

So how would I like O'Nan's novelization of the last few years of Fitzgerald's life in his new book, "West of Sunset"? Well, I loved it! O'Nan really pulled me right into the late 1930s Hollywood sc
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Jill
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
First, a big thanks to Gooodreads FirstReads and the publisher for enabling me to be an early readers.

When most of us think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, we remember him as a literary legend: the creator of the Great Gatsby, part of the glittering Scott-and-Zelda duo, full of shimmer and promise.

In this latest book, Stewart O’Nan introduces us to Fitgerald-as-outsider: “a poor boy from a rich neighborhood, a scholarship kid at boarding school, a Midwestern in the East, an easterner out West.”

Daringly,
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Jillian
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really love this bio , I focuses on the last few years of his life where he is unhealthy , alcoholic who despite his brilliance can't get a job and keep it. His wife was institutionalize ex by this point and it seems his relationship with his daughter was steadily declining. There is not much written that I have seen about this sad point in his life, so I found this to be a fascinating read . Iran honestly it seems like the people from this Time period had crazy drama .... I found this book we ...more
JenniferD
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
though it has been a while, at one point i did know an awful lot about f. scott fitzgerald - or as much as could be known from various biographies. so from the outset, i knew where o'nan's novel was headed. even though that was the case, i still found this an interesting read. i am just a bit bummed that i did not get as immersed in the book as i had hoped - i really thought this was going to be an awesome, escapist read (something i am in desperate need of lately).

stewart o'nan has been a glar
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Janet
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: california
A fictional version of Fitzgerald's last years, spent in Hollywood in the late 1930's, working at the studios trying to make enough money to keep Zelda in the asylum and Scottie in school, his dreams and yearnings, his self-defeating tendencies, his aching responsibility for his mentally ill wife and late life romance with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham... my favorite locales are here, especially the Garden of Allah and the ghostly figure of Alla Nazimova, the owner of the place--what had begun ...more
Danielle
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I have loved all of the other books by Stewart O'Nan that I have read, so I was extremely excited to get a galley copy of West of Sunset. Sadly, I really didn't care for it at all. The book is a fictional biography of the last three years of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. His wife Zelda is in a mental institution. He is an extreme alcoholic, and his fortunes have turned. He has moved out to Hollywood to write for the movies, but at this point in his life he has trouble even making that work.

I gener
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Larry H
Jan 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers of all time. Like many, I was first introduced to his writing in high school through The Great Gatsby, which I fell in love with pretty instantaneously, and then devoured everything else he wrote. But while I am familiar with F. Scott Fitzgerald the author, I honestly never knew much about F. Scott Fitzgerald the man, save his tumultuous rel
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Anmiryam
I wanted to give this book a higher rating out of fondness for Stewart O'Nan who I have thought a wonderful writer since reading the brilliant and pithy Last Night at the Lobster back when it came out.

I generally avoid fictionalized biography. If the subjects are well known, it's hard to restructure their lives enough to craft original fiction. If a person's life is interesting to me, most of the time I'd much rather read a well-written biography and I can't say Stewart O'Nan's new novel challe
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Amber
This was an interesting fictional depiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald following his literary fame and glory days. His wife, Zelda, is in a mental asylum and his daughter, Scottie, is at a boarding school back east. He can’t afford to pay the bills and goes to Hollywood to try to become a screenwriter. This book was stronger when Scott was visiting Zelda and Scottie or remembering their past rather than what he was doing in Hollywood. There was too much name dropping and boring details of writing sc ...more
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking, NetGalley, and Penguin First to Read for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

As WEST OF SUNSET opens, Stewart O’Nan takes readers to the mountains of North Carolina, as Scott Fitzgerald is visiting his wife, Zelda for their anniversary, a day trip to Chimney Rock, where Zelda is a patient of Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, due to her depression and mental illness.

At age forty, Scott and Zelda have experienced numerous setba
...more
Scott Rhee
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I can’t explain why, but I happen to love reading depressing-as-hell stories of people in the twilight of their lives, whose worlds are falling apart around them, and then they die.

I’m sure there is a German word (“schadenfreude” comes close) that would adequately describe this inexplicable love I have for reading about other people’s misery and despair, but for now, I’m okay with letting that aspect of my psyche go unexamined.

Basically, if you are like me, then you’ll most likely enjoy Stewart
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Erika Robuck
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From its start, when Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald meet for an outing from her asylum in North Carolina, the novel creates a tender, sympathetic portrait of two thoroughly wrung out and exhausted people. The reader watches this couple who, in spite of their dizzying highs and crushing lows, could be like any other couple who have weathered years of love and heartbreak. But as the focus moves to Scott, one begins to understand the Gatsby-esque capacity he had for hope that makes him extraordinary.

In
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Judy
I reviewed this book for an on-line publication last March. I was taking a break from blogging at that time, but it came out in paperback in December, 2015 and was on my list of favorite reads for last year. I am posting the review here now.

What a sad story. A fictionalized tale of F Scott Fitzgerald's last years, it is even sadder than that author's fiction. Stewart O'Nan is masterful at writing about sad, tortured, sometimes broken people. In an interview on Other People, he says he wanted to
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Sue
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I first became aware of F. Scott Fitzgerald as a personality when I read Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a favorite book of mine. The young Fitzgerald in Paris is a memorable character in that reminiscence, but one seen through the lens of Hemingway’s acute and possibly jaundiced eye. It was hard even then to reconcile the dissolute and distracted Fitzgerald with the brilliant creator of Gatsby.

But it was not Fitzgerald who drew me to West of Sunset; it was O’Nan. I have loved his books abo
...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oh, did I ever like this book, since it fed my obsession with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
I'm a fan of O'Nan's. He's a local boy, and I like how he takes ordinary, kind of down-and-out characters, gets them in trouble, and yet allows them to demonstrate some dignity and sometimes even a little class.
He went a little out of character in this novel and selected the not-at-all-ordinary F. Scott Fitzgerald as his protagonist. He covers the last 3 years of Fitzgerald's life, a very down period when Ze
...more
Denise
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This thoroughly researched fictionalized biography of F.Scott Fitzgerald would not have been as wonderfully written under a lesser writer's hands. A huge Fitzgerald fan, I felt as though Stewart O'Nan must have personally known him, as well as the other important people in his life. The dialog was insanely real and perfect.

What I found most remarkable about Fitzgerald's last years, and O'Nan's conveyance of it, was that although he was scrambling to make money, write a new novel and fight his he
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Morgan
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-long-ago
I WISH I HADN’T READ IT

The greatness of the novels F. Scott Fitzgerald did write cannot be in doubt or diminished because his writing life waned much too soon.

Even if the last three years of this exalted author’s life was as dismal and depressing as is reported in this very limp story it is a great disservice to Fitzgerald’s memory.

If you have not already read Fitzgerald’s work reading this book will likely not encourage you to do so because Scott has been portrayed by this 'author' as a bumbli
...more
Elisha
I don't recall exactly how I first heard about this book, but from the second I read the description I've been desperate to read it. I am, like a lot of people, a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although I change my mind a lot, The Great Gatsby is the novel I most often list as my favourite of all time, and I very much love Tender Is the Night and This Side of Paradise too. The Fitzgerald myth is also something that fascinates me and, although I've never actually read a biography on the Fitzgera ...more
Lori
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
West of Sunset is a reason to stand up, clap heartily and even yell out a few 'brava!' rounds at the end of the last page. I suppose the rest of this review could read 'superlative...superlative...more praise...sorry it had to end...how will even someone as gifted as Stewart O'Nan follow up this one?"

I have enjoyed O'Nan's versatility and his almost microscopic attention to character study for 15 years now. I 'discovered' him back around the year 2000 when I was working for the Akron libraries a
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri ...more

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