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 The Great Gatsby, he was stirred to actively research her claim.
Boats Against the Current, illustrated with never-before-seen photos from the Lewis family, 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.
Richard “Deej” Webb is an author, an award-winning educator, and a documentary filmmaker. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he taught history for twenty-four years at both the high school and college levels. A featured presenter in the Connecticut Public Broadcasting documentary Prohibition: Connecticut Goes Dry, Webb is also co-creator and co-producer with Robert Williams of a documentary film about the Fitzgeralds in Connecticut, Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story, which is a companion to this book. Webb serves as an advisor and board member to many local and national libraries, museums and history societies.