Friday, July 13, 2012

Gatsby's Girl

Finished Gatsby's Girl by Caroline Preston. This novel imagines the relationship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his first love Ginerva King when he was a sophomore at Princeton and she was 16. Ginerva and Scott correspond at length after their first meeting. Their romance lasts about eight months and then fizzles out awkwardly during Scott's visit to Ginerva and her family in Lake Forest, IL. The novel then follows Ginerva through her adult years when she becomes aware of Fitzgerald's use of her as a character in various novels and short stories. Set mostly in Chicago, we see Ginerva's engagement taking place in the dining room of The Palmer House. We see her escort Scott's ailing wife Zelda around the 1933 World's Fair, and finally her lunch meeting with Scottie, Scott and Zelda's daughter, in The Walnut Room at Marshall Fields. While their relationship was brief it had a lasting influence on both parties, reinforcing the idea that our earliest romances are with us always.

I enjoyed this book enormously. It reminded me of Edna Ferber's Dawn O'Hara and of my early obsession with Fitzgerald's work. Background for the novel indicates that Ginerva was the model for Isabelle Borgé in This Side of Paradise, Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and Josephine Perry in The Basil and Josephine Stories, which I have just started rereading. I've read Gatsby so many times, but in anticipation of the Baz Luhrmann film, set to be released Christmas 2012, I plan to listen to an audiobook recording, just for old time's sake.

I was about half way through Gatsby's Girl before I realized that I had recently read Preston's newest book, The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

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