Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck
This novel is from the point of view of a psychiatric nurse caring for Zelda Fitzgerald. The nurse really enmeshes herself in the Fitzgeralds’ dysfunctional marriage, to the extent that it’s unhealthy for her as well as her charges. The book really paints F. Scott Fitzgerald in an unflattering light. He’s controlling and alcoholic, leeching off his wife for creative inspiration while preventing her from self-expression. Zelda is described as so fascinating and dynamic that it makes you mourn for the books she might have written and the art she might have created if she’d been allowed. At the same time, she’s kind of the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl, playing that role in her husband’s life, and in this novel, in the life of her nurse as well. Zelda makes me think of Virginia Woolf’s “Shakespeare’s Sister” and the waste of a genius born female in an age that wasn’t ready for that. The ending for Zelda is of course tragic, but the nurse’s own life improves over the course of the story, which balances some of the melancholy.