Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck

Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck Purchase:

    This is a heartfelt, emotional journey with a glamorous, materialistic couple and the story of a unique woman whose heart shines with the gift of compassion.

    From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.

    When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard.

    Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius.

    But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended….

    Review by Eileen Granfors:

    Erika Robuck
    Erika Robuck

    The “Brangelina” of the twenties was the “it” couple, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Their excesses and their sad demise have been well documented.

    Erika Robuck spins a new tale of well-worn history by letting an outsider narrate. The fictitious Anna Howard is a psychiatric nurse. She understands the terrors of the shell-shocked and the oddness of the exceptionally talented. These qualities help Anna to bond with her newest patient, Zelda Fitzgerald.

    Zelda’s insecurities and eccentricities are more than the acting out of a spoiled, flirtatious flapper. As Anna gets to know Zelda, and then Scott, Anna finds that her patient’s delusions are rooted in her husband’s distrust of her and rivalry with her. Anna works to find outlets for Zelda’s obsessions, from dance to painting to writing. Although Anna is overtaxed by the load of this care, she continues to try. Anna loses faith in Scott even as she grows closer to Zelda.

    Anna spends so many years at the beck and call of the Fitzgeralds that she loses her chance to be young and free. Her husband, Ben, disappeared in World War I. She expects no further romance in her life. She lost a child. She expects to continue to live as a widow alone, close to her brother (a priest) and her parents. She does not peer into her own future.

    Things change for Anna when Zelda is committed to a mental hospital for a longer stay in Ashville, NC. Anna takes more time to develop her own talents, to meet new people, and to find pleasure in a life not rife with outbursts of insanity.

    Robuck, whose previous best seller is Hemingway’s Girl, brings the Jazz Age to life. The excesses of drinking and travel compete with the excesses of jealousy in creativity. The Fitzgeralds love one another deeply, yet they were a building storm that would destroy them both.

    Robuck handles the famous couple in trouble financially and emotionally by allowing Anna to filter the information and dole it out as Anna interprets the events. The glass world of the Fitzgeralds is shattered. It is a mark of her depth of character building that Robuck allows the reader to accept their end while still caring about the life of Anna.

    This is a heartfelt, emotional journey with a glamorous, materialistic couple and the story of a unique woman whose heart shines with the gift of compassion.