Boats Against the Current (Centennial Edition)
The Honeymoon Summer of Scott and Zelda: Westport, Connecticut 1920
By Richard Webb
NEW CENTENNIAL EDITION FOR 2020
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald honeymooned for five months in the summer of 1920 in a modest gray house in Westport, Connecticut. It was an experience that had a more profound impact on both of their collective works than any other place they lived.
It was, for Scott and Zelda, their honeymoon. Having just gotten married and after being kicked out of some of New York City’s finest hotels, they were, for the first time, in their very own place, albeit for only five months. It was a time that Scott Fitzgerald called “the happiest year since I was eighteen.”He had, after all, just achieved success with his first novel, This Side of Paradise, and was suddenly awash with money.
The Fitzgeralds lived a wild life of drinking, driving, and endless partying while living in suburban Connecticut. As it happens, living near the beach, they were neighbors to a larger-than-life reclusive multi-millionaire, F.E. Lewis.
Historian Richard Webb grew up in Westport a few doors down the street from where the Fitzgeralds had lived some forty years earlier. Fascinated with the Fitzgeralds, when Webb learned that author Barbara Probst Solomon, who grew up across the river from the F.E. Lewis estate, proposed in the New Yorker that Westport was the real setting for Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, he was stirred to actively research her claim.
Boats Against the Current tells the real story behind the famous novel and its tragic hero, debunking the long-held belief that the book was solely inspired by the Fitzgerald’s time in Great Neck, across the Sound in Long Island, and lays out enough information about the fascinating Mr. Lewis that it is difficult not to believe that author Webb has located the true inspiration for one of the most captivating and iconic characters in American literature, the great Gatsby himself.
Illustrated with a fantastic array of never-before-seen photos from the Lewis family, as well as the scrapbooks of the Fitzgeralds, period newspaper clippings, and a myriad of compelling stories about Scott, Zelda, and their fantastically wealthy neighbor.
A companion book to the documentary Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story, Boats Against the Current also recounts Webb’s own journey of making the film with fellow Westporter and filmmaker, Robert Steven Williams.
The Great Gatsby may be one of America’s essential novels. Boats Against the Current is an essential document for anyone who has read the book and wondered at the fantastical world whose story it tells.