Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston
3 of 5 stars
This biographical-fiction novel tells the story of Ginevra Perry, based on F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s first love, who broke his heart and inspired such characters as Isabelle Borge and Daisy Buchannan.
So typical of Scott, to take a punch party at a shabby country club and fill it with flickering lamplight and romantic interludes. To take a stuck-up pre-debutante and turn her into a noble creature capable of deep feelings.
The first 3/4 of this book captivated me. I loved seeing Fitzgerald’s life story, so often mimicked in his own books, through the eyes of one of his “PD”s (Popular Daughters). It was easy to see how the great romantic egotist could take a half-hearted romance that meant so little to Ginevra and turn it into an epic story of love and loss like The Great Gatbsy. Though Ginevra’s character was shallow, fickle, and flighty, it fit well with Fitzgerald’s own perception of the ‘carelessness’ of Daisy. I loved the connections and how the author tied in historical facts about the Fitzgeralds and the real-life Ginevra, as well as parts of Fitzgerald’s stories, to create a very realistic, believable story of “the one who got away.”
The final section of the story (from about the time when Ginevra and Zelda meet) could probably be entirely skipped. The final meeting with Scott in Hollywood was interesting, but the rest seemed to be two steps backward for Ginevra as a character — someone who finally knew what she was doing and was acting maturely reverts to her old, careless ways, making the whole thing end on a rather bleak note.
Overall: Reading like one of Fitzgerald’s novels, this story combines fact and fiction in a way that’s believable and intriguing.