Month: July 2015

Cheating to catch up on book reviews:

Posted on Updated on

book reviews 7.27.15Sorry Susannah Cahalan, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Philippa Gregory and Katherine Howe for taking the easy way out and posting this pic, rather than writing proper reviews. Will make it up to each of you lovely ladies, but in the meantime … Thanks for the great reads! Last month, when life was less hectic, I wrote about Jennifer Tseng’s Mayumi at length.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica >> one of our book giveaways tonight!

Posted on

Tomorrow is the release date for Mary Kubica‘s Pretty Baby, follow-up to her debut novel The Good Girl, but we’ll be giving away copies tonight!

Listen to tonight’s Literary New England Radio Show starting at 8 p.m. Our interview with Mary will air at roughly 8:17, and both before and after that conversation, we’ll tell you how to win. In all, we feature three authors and book giveaways on tonight’s show:

3 books 7.27.15Hope you’ll join us! For those who can’t, the good new is that shortly after tonight’s episode ends, it will go into the Literary New England Radio Show archives, where you can listen anytime. Scroll through the archives, and you can access episodes going back to our very first one aired in December 2011.

F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s beautiful, gin-filled summer in Connecticut

Posted on Updated on

The Fitzgeralds in front of their Westport house.
The Fitzgeralds in front of their Westport house.

For six months in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived in a rented house at 244 Compo Road South in Westport, Conn., as he wrote his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned. The house is now a private home.

What the "Wakeman Cottage" the Fitzgeralds rented looks like today.
What the “Wakeman Cottage” the Fitzgeralds rented looks like today.

Fitzgerald was 23 at the time, fresh off the success of his debut novel, This Side of Paradise. He and Zelda were newlyweds and known–not always in a good way–for their love of liquor and parties.

At Compo Beach.
At Compo Beach.

Westport, a beacon for artists of all kinds in the 1920s, was a perfect place for the couple. “Summers at Westport, Connecticut, exceeded the riotousness of New York,” said Westport resident and painter Guy Pene du Bois in his 1940 autobiography Artists Say The Silliest Things. “There, gin and orange juice ruled the days and nights. Talk was an extravaganza. Work was an effort made between parties.” And gin was one of the Fitzgeralds’ favorite. In Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, biographer James Mellow describes their “mad rides along Post Road with abrupt stops at roadhouses to replenish the supply of gin.”

The gin rickey was often their drink of choice. Perhaps a great way to celebrate the lives of this legendary literary couple would be to mix a pitcher and bring it to Westport’s Compo Beach at sunset, followed by a stroll down Compo Road South to see the house that ended up being immortalized in The Beautiful and Damned:

The gray house had been there when women who kept cats were probably witches. … Since those days the house had been bolstered up in a feeble corner, considerably repartitioned and newly plastered inside, amplified by kitchen and added to by a side-porch but, save for where some jovial oaf had roofed the new kitchen with red tin, Colonial it defiantly remained.

FScotthouse_CocktailSome believe Westport also was the actual inspiration for The Great Gatsby, rather than parts of Long Island. Articles in the WestportNow and The New York Times’ Connecticut section explore this possibility, plus include quotes from those who remember the Fitzgeralds during their time in Connecticut. But if gin is still on your mind, hold off on the Gatsby exploration until after you spend a few minutes enjoying this great Open Culture post about Fitzgerald conjugating the verb “to cocktail.” You may want to have a gin rickey in hand.