Friday, June 13, 2008

Gatsby's Girl by Caroline Preston

What was this, exactly? Light fiction? Yes. Historical fiction? Yes. Reality-based fiction? Yes. Caroline Preston has written a novel about a character called Ginevra Perry, and her relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. She is based on a real character called Ginevra King with whom the real Fitzgerald had some kind of relationship during his days at Princeton and upon whom he reputedly based several of his female characters. The fictional Ginevra is a self-absorbed, spoiled rich girl. I didn’t like her very much, just as I never particularly liked Fitzgerald’s fictional women either. Now I guess I know why.

I am never sure what to do with these “reimagined history” books. I find myself constantly trying to figure out what is real and what the author made up. I think it’s a tricky kind of book to write, and I’m not sure Preston was entirely successful. The book is sloppily edited (a reference to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz movie appears in a sequence that takes place before that movie was released). The first person narrative voice is too contemporary to sound authentic for the time, and yet not backward-looking enough to sound convincingly like the reminiscences of an old woman.

Preston is also the author of Jackie by Josie, which I read several years ago. That is another reimagined history tale, about Jacqueline Kennedy, and Josie, the graduate student who is hired to do research for a tell-all biography about the former first lady. I liked that book better than Gatsby’s Girl. I think it's out of print, but your library probably has a copy, and Amazon had several used copies for sale. Take that one to the beach instead of this one.

(Book 20, 2008)


Anonymous said...

Regarding Jacqueline Kennedy, I recently read a novel called "The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis" by Ruth Francisco, that I found very compelling, and also factually true, from all I've read about the Kennedys.

So I recommend it.

The novel is recent, being first published in in 2006.

It is based on the premise of Jackie's private notebooks, which the novelist has Jackie giving to her shortly before Jackie's death, with the instructions to " with them what you will...!!".

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