cover image Another Side of Paradise

Another Side of Paradise

Sally Koslow. Harper, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-269676-2

Koslow (The Widow Waltz) takes on the tumultuous affair of ambitious Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham and literary lion F. Scott Fitzgerald in this dishy interpretation of Graham’s memoir, Beloved Infidel. Here, Koslow plays off the “weakness and self-deception” of British expat Graham, who reinvents herself in America to hide a poverty-stricken childhood in a London Jewish orphanage and a sexless first marriage to a salesman. Fitzgerald, who comes to Hollywood to reignite his writing career while battling alcoholism, is preoccupied with thoughts about his mentally ill wife, Zelda, and his own fading fame. Though generously peppered with the big names and gossip of the 1930s, the narrative is driven by the tortured relationship between Graham and Fitzgerald in which both succumb to the worst in each other. This version aims to excuse and soften Graham’s unrepentant opportunism—“telling lies” is “no harder than breathing,” she says. And it plays up a version of Fitzgerald as a diligent craftsman and mentor rather than as a mean and abusive drunk. Koslow may be rewriting a feel-good version of the Graham-Fitzgerald romance, but it’s an intoxicating one. (May)