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F. Scott Fitzgerald tale 'West of Sunset' draws critical praise

The novel about Fitzgerald's time in Hollywood has received mostly positive reviews.

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    'West of Sunset' is by Stewart O'Nan.
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The book “West of Sunset” by Stewart O’Nan is drawing critical praise for its portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time in Hollywood.

The novel was released on Jan. 13 and was selected as one of Amazon’s best books of January. “I'm a bit of a Fitzgerald fan ... and this is just extremely well-done," Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson said of the title. "It's the ultimate historical novel.... [Fitzgerald's] Hollywood years are so interesting.”

And the book is drawing critical praise elsewhere as well. Shelf Awareness reviewer Julia Jenkins wrote of the book, “O'Nan brilliantly, sensitively portrays Fitzgerald's internal drama with a tone of wry wit and doom. The nuances of Zelda's character are apt and appropriate, and appearances by Dorothy Parker, Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart add color and humor. O'Nan's characterization and dialogue are spot-on, and his choice of the less-glamorous years of his subject's life yields a beautiful, elegiac novel worthy of its model.”

Meanwhile, Library Journal reviewer Reba Leiding of Virginia’s James Madison University Library found the book to be “a realistic piece of historical fiction….Fitzgerald comes across as a haunting, multifaceted, sympathetic character” and Kirkus Reviews called it “a sympathetic portrayal of a troubled genius... O'Nan has masterfully re-created the feel and ambience of the Hollywood studio system in the late 1930s.”

Publishers Weekly, however, received the title less well. PW's reviewer wrote, “The book is thoroughly researched, featuring a huge supporting cast of famous players … but it feels more like a television docudrama than a fully realized novel.”

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