In The Perfect Hour, biographer James L. W. West III reveals the never-before told story of the romance between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his first love, Ginevra King. They met in January 1915, when Scott was nineteen, a Princeton student, and sixteen-year-old Ginevra, socially poised and confident, was a sophomore at Westover School. Their romance flourished in heartfelt letters and quickly ran its course–but Scott never forgot it. Ginevra became the inspiration for Isabelle Borgé in This Side of Paradise and the model for Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby. Scott also wrote short stories inspired by her–including “Babes in the Woods” and “Winter Dreams,” which, along with Ginevra’s own story featuring Scott are reprinted in this volume. With access to Ginevra’s personal diary, love letters, photographs, and Scott’s own scrapbook, West tells the beguiling story of youthful passion that shaped Scott Fitzgerald’s life as a writer.
For Scott and Ginevra, “the perfect hour” was private code for a fleeting time they almost shared and then yearned after for the rest of their lives. Now West brings that perfect hour back to life in all its freshness, delicacy, and poignant brevity.
About the Author
JAMES L.W. WEST III is Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and has been a Fulbright scholar to England and Belgium. He is the author of "William Styron: A Life" and is general editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
"From the Hardcover edition."
“Transporting . . . a poignant, captivating book.”
–Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“A fascinating portrait not only of a first love, but of how a writer used the unspoiled memories of youthful idealism and bittersweet emotion to fuel his career.”
“What is remarkable, as West conveys superbly, are the varied literary forms in which King would surface in Fitzgerald’s fiction.”
“[A] charming account . . . a must-read for Fitzgerald aficionados and literature lovers.”