Inspired by the ephemeral but intense historical romance between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his first love, Chicago debutante Ginevra King, Preston bases her sexy, self-centered title character both on Fitzgerald's crush and the female characters (Daisy Buchanan, etc.) for which she was his muse. Ginevra Perry is the spoiled 16-year-old expert flirt who catches Scott Fitzgerald's fancy in 1916 in this gracefully written if drifting novel. The first part of the book excerpts the earnest, epistolary romance between the Lake Forest, Ill., society girl and her less prosperous suitor while she's at boarding school in Connecticut and he's at Princeton. Fickle Ginevra ditches Scott for handsome but dull aviator Billy Granger, with whom she is doomed to a "dried-out husk" of a marriage, but privately continues to keep tabs on Scott while reading his novels for signs of herself in his female characters. This novel, which Ginevra narrates in a mannered, period voice, follows her into her late 30s and strives to echo the sense of loss and promise gone wrong found in Fitzgerald's books. Preston (Jackie by Josie) launches the story from a clever conceit, but the narrator's lack of self-reflection and the gentle arc of her cushioned if not always happy life make for a listless read. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
In 1916, pretty 15-year-old Ginevra Perry is the spectacularly self-absorbed daughter of wealthy Lake Forest, IL, parents. After a series of scandalous romances that culminate in a shocking broken engagement to some hapless soul, she meets Princeton sophomore F. Scott Fitzgerald. They begin an intense, mostly epistolary romance that, for Ginevra, flames out by summer. Alas, Fitzgerald, already in the throes of messy public alcoholism, never quite recovers from this first all-consuming love. He embarks on a decades-long quest to immortalize Ginevra over and over again in such iconic Fitzgerald characters as Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby), Isabelle Borge (This Side of Paradise), and Josephine Perry (The Basil and Josephine Stories). Using as her framework the little-known real life of Ginevra King, former archivist Preston employs immaculate research and a rich imagination to flesh out what might have happened. Even as her unshakable solipsism detonates the lives of those close to her, the fictional Ginevra tracks her progress through Fitzgerald's novels. A fascinating rendering of the tragedy that was Fitzgerald's life and of the young woman who was the catalyst for so much of his glorious body of work. Highly recommended.-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor District Lib., MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A wealthy man's daughter breaks young F. Scott Fitzgerald's heart and inspires the literature that defined a generation. In 1915, a late-night kiss during a bobsled ride fuels a semester's worth of torrid correspondence between Ginevra Perry, a boarder at the Westover School in Connecticut, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, a sophomore at Princeton. Once she is home in Lake Forest for the summer, however, Scott's letters lose her interest, and his late August visit to her parent's Italianate mansion is disastrous. Ginevra, whose favor has settled elsewhere, unceremoniously dumps Scott and marries Billy Granger, a dashing flyboy from her social set. After WWI, they move to Chicago and take their place in society. A few years later, Ginevra, unhappily pregnant with her second child and bored, reads an article about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his glamorous wife, Zelda. Ginevra scours Scott's fiction and finds herself in many of his cold, shallow debutantes: Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise, the Josephine Perry stories and, most famously, in Daisy Buchanan, the love of Jay Gatsby's life. Keeping abreast of Scott and Zelda becomes Ginevra's shadow life. She even travels to Paris in the hope of running into them, only to learn from Sylvia Beach that they have decamped to the south of France. Meanwhile, Ginevra's marriage unravels and her son's mental instability goes unnoticed. Eventually, a series of impulsive acts leads to a scandal and divorce. In 1936, Ginevra finds herself living in a one-bedroom apartment with a two-burner hotplate-once again mirroring Scott's work (he has just published The Crack-Up). Preston (Jackie by Josie, 1997 etc.) bases her character on Fitzgerald's real-life firstlove, Ginevra King, who was the prototype for many of the rich girls Fitzgerald's "poor boy" characters shouldn't marry. The story is engaging as far as it goes, but such rich material cries out for greater narrative risks.
"Compelling and perfectly evoked....This is a wonderful book."Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
"Gatsby's Girl is an extraordinary book, as elegaic and evocative as much of Fitzgerald's own work."Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland, Paradise Alley and Strivers Row
"Fascinating...tantalizing...An entirely pleasurable tour-de-force."Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife
"Though this is a work of fiction, it should be read by anyone interested in Fitzgerald's work."Sarah E. White Bookpage
"A wonderfully elegiac novel that evokes the tenor and times of the 'Lost Generation' . . . marvelous."Dorman T. Shindler The Denver Post
"Compelling . . . a sad, beautiful, erotically charged picture."Dana Kletter The San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating rendering of the tragedy that was Fitzgerald's life...Highly recommended." Library Journal Starred
"Imaginative reconstruction . . . Thoroughly researched and persuasively written, this novel rings true."Barbara Fisher Boston Globe