Villa America: A Novel (Hardcover)
Villa America is a beautifully crafted, thoroughly entertaining work of historical fiction about Sara and Gerald Murphy, part of the so-called Lost Generation of the 1920s. As ex pats living in the south of France, the Murphys strove to create an idyllic world for themselves and their circle of friends that included Hemingway, Picasso and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This carefully researched book tells a story of the charmed, extravagant lives of these people who, despite their efforts to escape, found themselves vulnerable to the realities of misfortune and tragedy. Klaussmann is a gifted writer with the ability to give voice to the most fundamental truths of humanity. There were passages I read again and again, marveling at their beauty and insight.— Samantha
When Sara Wiborg and Gerald Murphy met and married, they set forth to create a beautiful world together-one that they couldn't find within the confines of society life in New York City. They packed up their children and moved to the South of France, where they immediately fell in with a group of expats, including Hemingway, Picasso, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald.
On the coast of Antibes they built Villa America, a fragrant paradise where they invented summer on the Riviera for a group of bohemian artists and writers who became deeply entwined in each other's affairs. There, in their oasis by the sea, the Murphys regaled their guests and their children with flamboyant beach parties, fiery debates over the newest ideas, and dinners beneath the stars.
It was, for a while, a charmed life, but these were people who kept secrets, and who beneath the sparkling veneer were heartbreakingly human. When a tragic accident brings Owen, a young American aviator who fought in the Great War, to the south of France, he finds himself drawn into this flamboyant circle, and the Murphys find their world irrevocably, unexpectedly transformed.
A handsome, private man, Owen intrigues and unsettles the Murphys, testing the strength of their union and encouraging a hidden side of Gerald to emerge. Suddenly a life in which everything has been considered and exquisitely planned becomes volatile, its safeties breached, the stakes incalculably high. Nothing will remain as it once was. Liza Klaussman expertly evokes the 1920s cultural scene of the so-called "Lost Generation." Ravishing and affecting, and written with infinite tenderness, Villa America is at once the poignant story of a marriage and of a golden age that could not last.
About the Author
"Another sensitive fictional portrait of a complicated marriage from the author of Tigers in Red Weather.... Klaussmann makes good use of several fine biographies of the Murphys (cited in an author's note) to capture the magic of a privileged, bohemian existence.... Beautifully written and surprisingly fresh."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Empathetic [and] beautifully written.... In Liza Klaussmann's skilled and sensitive new novel, the Murphys' famous sociability becomes intriguingly fraught, the expression of a loving, complicated marriage whose intricacies she investigates with the same emotional acumen displayed in her 2012 debut novel, Tigers in Red Weather."—Wendy Smith, Washington Post
"John Dos Passos, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, and their spouses come alive in this richly detailed tale of friendships, creative rivalry, romance, drunkenness, and tragedy.... This is an engrossing read, sure to be popular with lovers of historical fiction who enjoyed Paula McLain's The Paris Wife."—Elizabeth Safford, Library Journal (starred review)