E-Book Discovery of a Real "Daisy" in Fitzgerald's Life Falls Short
Olmstead says that Fitzgerald met Chanler in 1912 when he was a teenager through Father Sigourney Fay. Father Fay was a father figure to Fitzgerald and encouraged the young writer to pursue his ambitions early in his career.
Olmstead suggests that Fitzgerald “transformed Daisy [Chanler] into an idealized mother figure” in several of his characters: Beatrice Blaine and Mrs. Lawrence in “This Side of Paradise” and Charlotte Melarky in early versions of “Tender is the Night.” Daisy Buchanan – whose maiden name is said to be Fay in “The Great Gatsby” – was the marriage of “two powerful parental personages in his life.”
Besides this brief moment of intriguing evidence, Olmstead is unable to crack open the significance of Chanler as “Daisy.” Olmstead acknowledges that Chanler’s connection to the character Daisy is limited to just the name. Literary critics agree that the character Daisy is based on Fitzgerald’s first love Ginevra King and his wife Zelda.
The exploration of connections between Chanler and Fitzgerald's characters are limited to the first chapter while the remainder of the book traces Chanler’s life.
Olmstead’s book is successful as a biography of Chanler, describing her inclination towards music at a young age, her marriage into the wealthy Astor family, and her stout Catholic faith.
As a groundbreaking discovery in literary history, however, the book falls short.
The title “Who was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy?” implies that Daisy Buchanan will play a more significant role in Olmstead’s argument. After all, the shared name of “Daisy” is the main connection between Chanler and a Fitzgerald character.
The book only breaks the surface of potentially compelling evidence, losing its original premise beyond the first chapter. The details of Chanler’s life can only be significant if the direct correlation between Chanler and Fitzgerald’s characters – namely Daisy – is first definitively established.
The book is available for free download until Oct. 1 with the coupon code EZ47B.