Sometimes Madness is Wisdom -- Zelda and F. Scott...

Book Brief

September 09, 2001|By Polly Paddock | Polly Paddock,Knight Ridder Newspapers

Sometimes Madness is Wisdom -- Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage, by Kendall Taylor. Ballantine. 416 pages. $28.

It's a tale at once fascinating, compulsively readable and unbearably sad. The story of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald -- the golden young couple who embodied all that was beautiful and damned about the Jazz Age -- has been told repeatedly over the years. But in Sometimes Madness is Wisdom, Kendall Taylor takes a lifelong interest in the doomed Zelda and molds it into a book that is wise, compassionate and distinctly different.

Taylor, a cultural historian, has been researching her subject's life and work for more than 30 years. Hers is the first book to treat Zelda -- charming, captivating, reckless, creative -- on an equal footing with her famous author husband.

She paints an unforgettable portrait of an era: the age of flappers, bathtub gin and wild abandon. But the heart of Taylor's book is the story of the marriage of two brilliant, tormented souls.

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