By Caroline Preston
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618537259, 320pp.)
Publication Date: May 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Just as Jay Gatsby was haunted by Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fizgerald was haunted by his own great first love a Chicago socialite named Ginevra. Alluring, capricious, and ultimately unavailable, she would become his first muse, the inspiration for such timeless characters as Gatsby's Daisy and Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise.
Caroline Preston's astute perceptions of her characters and the cultural landscapes they inhabit have earned her work comparisons to to that of Anne Tyler, Alison Lurie, and Diane Johnson. Now, in this richly imagined and ambitious novel, Preston deftly evokes the entire sweep of Ginevra's life from her first meeting with Scott to the second act of her sometimes charmed, sometimes troubled life.
Ginevra was sixteen, a rich man’s daughter who had been told she was pretty far too often for her own good. Scott was nineteen, a poor boy full of ambition. They met at a country club dance in St. Paul, Minnesota, in January 1916. For almost a year they wrote each other letters so long, breathless, and yearning that they often required more than one envelope.
But despite their intense epistolary romance, the relationship wouldn’t last. After throwing him over with what he deemed supreme boredom and indifference,” she impulsively married a handsome aviator from the right society background.
Ruminating over what might have been had she picked the writer instead of the flier, she furtively reads the now famous Fitzgerald’s work. When she sees herself much to her surprise in his characters, it’s not just as the spoiled debutante he’d known; he’s also uncannily predicted the woman she’s become, cracks and all.
An affecting story of two people, one famous, one known only through her portrayals in enduring works of fiction, Gatsby’s Girl is a tremendously entertaining and moving novel about the powerful forces of first love, memory, and art.
CAROLINE PRESTON is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned her master's degree in American civilization at Brown University. She has worked as a manuscript librarian, both at the Houghton Library at Harvard and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. She is the author of two previous novels, Jackie by Josie (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and Lucy Crocker 2.0. She is married to the writer Christopher Tilghman, and they live with their three sons in Charlottesville, Virginia.
1. For the epigraph of Gatsby's Girl, Caroline Preston offers a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby: "He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy . . ." How does Fitzgerald's comment on Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan also bring to mind Preston's account of the relationship between Fitzgerald and Ginevra Perry? How might Fitzgerald's fiction writing have been a way for him to recover something of his own past?
"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