In 1939, F. Scott Fitzgerald was in Hollywood, in failing health, trying to work—write for the movies, sell some stories—and to continue to be the mainstay and anchor for his family, paying Zelda’s substantial hospital bills, educating Scottie and remaining, through letters, a protective and anxious father. The magazines were no longer clamoring for his stories; his books had nearly disappeared from the bookstores. The fame, money and high times of the early years seemed to have evaporated. Fortune had not deserted him entirely, however—Frances Kroll applied for the position as Fitzgerald’s secretary. Young and a little shy, but nevertheless level-headed, intelligent, practical, versatile and resilient, Miss Kroll played a vital role during the last quiet but difficult twenty months of Fitzgerald’s life. They worked at home where she typed from his handwritten pages, ordered groceries, made appointments and listened while he talked out ideas. Finally, it fell to her to make his funeral arrangements and deal with the modest belongings. Nearly a lifetime later, Frances Kroll Ring gives us both the youthful experience of Fitzgerald, and her mature vision of it. This frankly admiring and respectful memoir of the extraordinary writer creates a uniquely domestic picture. We see an admirable and talented man carrying on with dignity, purpose and commitment against a tide of troubles and disappointments.
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