F. Scott Fitzgerald and his lovely wife Zelda were legendary in their time. For the glitz and glamor of their lives, for their often chaotic behavior, and for the passionate yet stormy nature of their relationship.
Call Me Zelda is a story that began in 1932, in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, in the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic. Zelda was a patient, and Anna Howard, a nurse. The story is narrated in Anna’s first person voice, and we learn about the losses that have devastated her. How the ravages of war have hollowed out her very soul.
Almost as if the two of them were born to be connected, Zelda and Anna developed a close, almost symbiotic relationship that was mutually beneficial for a time, but then seemed to turn, until Anna was consumed by the needs of Scott and Zelda. Having a relationship with Zelda meant also having to relate to Scott, who proved difficult and challenging on the best of days.
Why was Zelda obsessed with finding her old diaries? Does her quest have anything to do with her assertions that Scott has “stolen” her writings and her ideas? That he has created his work from her life?
At one point in the story, there is a break between the Fitzgeralds and Anna, and only then is she able to start her own life over. To move past her losses.
And then there is a leap forward to post-WWII, when Anna is married to old friend Will, and has settled in with their three children: twins, Ben and Will; and Sara.
When Anna receives a letter from Zelda, years after Scott’s death and long since their last communication, all the old feelings of connection are stirred up. Will Anna take a final journey, at Zelda’s request, to search through the moments in Zelda’s past and find the diaries? And afterwards, what sad ending will finally close the chapter for the two of them?
An unforgettable tale that will stay with me, and which I enjoyed enough to award four stars. Recommended for those who love historical fiction and who won’t mind slogging through a lot of detail to reach the core of the story.