BEAUTIFUL FOOLS by R. Clifton Spargo


The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald
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Yet another addition to the spate of novels about Scott and Zelda, this one concentrating less on the toxic and more on the loving side of their relationship.

Spargo has an unconventional take on the Fitzgeralds here. Except for a brief introduction set in 1932, when Zelda is first hospitalized for schizophrenia, the novel takes place in April of 1939, on their extended vacation to Cuba. “Vacation” is, however, a circumlocution, for two personalities as intense and brittle as Scott and Zelda can’t ever be said to kick back, relax and temporarily forget about their “normal” lives, for there is no normal. Scott is deep into (and taking a break from) his illicit affair with Sheilah Graham, and Zelda is between hospitalizations, hoping for some kind of therapeutic epiphany with Scott. In Havana, Scott quickly finds a simpatico drinking buddy in the form of the darkly charismatic Matéo Cardoña, though Zelda is less impressed and worried about his influence over Scott. After a tragic knife fight in a bar, Cardoña tries to cover for Scott and Zelda, who have witnessed the event, for he wishes both to protect and to assert greater power over them. Cardoña is less than pleased when the Fitzgeralds take off for a resort away from Havana and develop a friendship with a newly married couple: Spaniard Aurelio, wounded in the Spanish Civil War, and his French wife, Maryvonne. Their friendship quickly develops an almost erotic quality, as Maryvonne is both flirtatious and seductive with Scott, but Zelda begins to come undone when they visit a Cuban fortuneteller who hints that Scott has been unfaithful to Zelda—and Zelda takes the seer at her word, pressing Scott for details.

Spargo writes with animation and fervor, a style conducive to the heat generated by his subjects.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4683-0492-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2013


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