SCOTTIE: The Daughter of... The Life of Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith by Eleanor Lanahan

SCOTTIE: The Daughter of... The Life of Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan Smith

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An inept, superficial, and histrionic biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald's daughter by her own daughter. Frances ""Scottie"" Fitzgerald (1921-1986) began a brief and reticent memoir just before she died, and her elder daughter expands it here, using an unsuccessful agglomeration of Scottie's writings, including diary entries, letters, introductions to posthumous collections of her father's work, journalism, and short fiction. Kept slightly to the side of her glamorous Jazz Age parents by nannies in childhood, Scottie found it necessary later to keep at a further distance from her alcoholic, cracked-up father and her schizophrenic, religiously fixated mother and finally to refrain from even mentioning them to their grandchildren--none of which helps Lanahan's book. Despite her father's sententious letters to her about her writing, Scottie persisted, contributing articles and short stories to the New Yorker and other magazines after graduating from Vassar. Moving to Washington, D.C., after her marriage, she combined her role as society wife and mother with political activism over nearly three decades of Democratic election campaigns and light journalism for the New York Times and Washington Post. As her father's reputation recovered from its low ebb at the time of his death, Scottie proved a zealous preserver of his literary estate and guardian of her parents' reputations. She herself endured two failed marriages and one son's suicide, and she was never able to complete her own projected novel, remaining too much ""the daughter of...."" Unfortunately, Lanahan has neither the literary, the personal, nor the historical acuity to approach her grandfather's legacy and her mother's life; she fails, for instance, to elucidate how larger events of the era may have influenced the generational conflicts between Scott, Scottie, and herself. This family soap opera only illustrates what Scottie herself once noted dryly: ""Relatives mess things up.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
Page count: 656pp
Publisher: HarperCollins