Could you imagine if your teenage love letters were exposed for the world to see years later?
That is the framework of Caroline Preston’s Gatsby’s Girl. Which re-imagines a fictionalized love affair between F. Scott Fitzgerald and a Chicago debutante renamed Ginerva Perry (based upon real-life socialite Ginerva King). The novel follows the life of young Miss Perry, starting with her brief tryst with Fitzgerald and ending with her telling their love story to Fitzgerald’s daughter Scottie years later.
In a word, the story is romantic. However, do not be mistaken and think that it’s a story full of happiness. In fact, it is a story of love lost and found, ignored and sought after. Preston breathes life into Perry, and through her eyes into Fitzgerald himself.
It’s easy to get lost in the story–it was difficult to put the book down! I grew so attached to Ginerva Perry, her faults included, that I needed to find out how her story progressed. I’ll admit, however, that I was both surprised and slightly disappointed by the lack of Fitzgerald’s presence in the book. In fact, he really only exists as a character for the first part (it’s divided into thirds) of the novel. For much of the book, he is simply referenced throughout the majority of the story, only reappearing once more before the end.
Instead, Preston focuses on how Perry both influenced Fitzgerald and was influenced herself by reading his works. So, readers get a historical sense of Fitzgerald’s life by Perry’s casual stalking of him through her habit of collecting paper/magazine articles about the author.
I can’t think of any “problem” I had with this novel, I enjoyed it immensely. The plot was solid and obviously well researched; the characters were round and believable; the tone and structure was well thought out and captivating. If you enjoy meta stories, this is almost certainly a book you’d enjoy since it is about one of America’s most famous authors.
Look out for my next post about The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory, and as always, feel free to recommend other books via the contact page!