There was a period in my life, shortly after grad school, when I read everything I could get my hands on by Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of Fitzgerald’s work, Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise are my most favorite. Recently, I reread Gatsby and was struck again by his craft. I didn’t remember Nick as so jaded and world-weary. Nor Daisy so damaged. But Gatsby, he was as tragic as ever.
Shortly after that recent reading, I went with some book club friends to visit Montgomery’s F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, where we were treated to a private exchange with the museum’s manager. He opened the display cases and passed around items among us, like early editions of F. Scott’s novels, Zelda’s childhood books, a cigarette holder used by Zelda and a feathered head piece made by the flapper.
Sitting on an antique pink settee in that aged house with Zelda’s paintings (some of which I was intrigued to find had biblical motifs) on the walls, smelling the musty pages in those old books and feeling the cigarette holder and feathers in my fingers—it didn’t take much to imagine the echoes of footsteps, glasses tinkling, flapper parties, a young girl’s giggles, and the laughter and tears of her parents.
It was a real treat.
(Images: my own photos of the museum; F. Scott Fitzgerald, by Carl Van Vechtenfrom the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection; Zelda Fitzgerald, public domain via Wikipedia)