It was golden nonetheless.
About Villa America by Liza Klaussmann: A dazzling novel set in the Cap D'Antibes based on the real-life inspirations for Fitzgerald's Tender is The Night.
In this gorgeous, glamorous, and affecting novel, Liza Klaussmann does for Sara and Gerald Murphy what Paula McLain and Michael Cunningham did for Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf in The Paris Wife and The Hours. Villa America was in fact a real house on the French Riviera that Sara and Gerald Murphy built to escape to in the 1920s. Members of a group of expat Americans, they were known for their fabulous parties and for making the Riviera into the glamorous place it is today. Their freewheeling days were filled with champagne and caviar, but these were people who kept secrets and who were, of course, heartbreakingly human.
This is a stunning story about the Lost Generation, about a marriage, about a golden age which could not last.
My two cents
|Pablo Picasso's "Femme assise le bras croises"|
believed to be a portrait of Sara Murphy
This fictionalized story focuses on the Murphys' love affair which inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night, as well as the charmed atmosphere they created and the numerous connections they had made during their heyday on Cap d'Antibes in southern France.
What I lovedHow existential it feels. When I finished this book, I could only sigh, and very deeply. Live life to the fullest - it's cliche that really rings true. This is a story that reads like Ecclestiastes, underscoring the truth that everything has a time and all good things must come to an end. But at the same time I love the fact that the book celebrates how alive everyone was that you can practically feel the energy behind the characters, particularly the compelling Sara.
|Sara and Gerald Murphy. Photo from MOMA.|
Never mind they were rich and famous, they had pretty interesting lives as people in general. This delves into defining moments in childhood, love and marriage, the joys and sorrows of having children, illness and death.
Interesting fill-in-the-blank in the plot. There is one specific plot line that really surprised me. The storytelling is such that you make your own little deductions as the pages keep turning. I was blindsided but it made total sense in the end, and it is a tragedy that can play itself out in anyone's life. I will let you discover it yourself!
Uh-ohsIf you hate the meandering descriptions of milieu in Anna Karenina, you may find some of the descriptions in this tedious. The laying down of backstories is quite drawn out so if you dislike that level of detail with little action, it can feel like there isn't much happening.
I mentioned there is some deduction involved for a reader. This vagueness is obviously intentional but when you're first reading it, you can either pick up on it, or get seriously annoyed when the puzzle piece eventually falls into place.
There are multiple voices telling the story in first person. I admit that there are times where that makes it confusing, or feel jumpy.
Verdict: Filled with gorgeous descriptions of the coasts of Cap d'Antibes in southern France, art and literary musings of Picasso and Fitzgerald, and a feeling of a being in the inner circle of the charmed Murphys, this existentialist historical fiction tale will be sure to intrigue those of you who are familiar with these real life people or those who love 1920s art and literature.
I already loved Klaussman the first time I read her and I love her even more for this novel. What else will she come up with?
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher for honest review consideration.