A dazzling novel set in the French Riviera based on the real-life inspirations for F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night.
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.
©2015 Liza Klaussmann (P)2015 Hachette Audio
"Narrator Jennifer Woodward presents this fictional version of the Murphys with all their magic intact as they entertain at their home, Villa America, in Cap d'Antibes. Woodward's genteel tones and girlish delight make the family's bohemian existence and hedonism both carefree and urgently serious." (AudioFile)
This journey through now quite well explored territory, thanks to the superior Paris Wife, is an enjoyable look at two of the key players, but presents as all too wooden and mono-dimensional. Not enough time was spent on the interior lives of the protagonists, and too many characters were skirted over, too lightly. The author shied away when it really mattered most. But, recommended for any lover of this period.
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