I received an advance review copy of Villa America at BEA 2015. It wasn’t on my list of must-gets, but I happened to wander into the Hachette booth and a man was handing them out. I was immediately drawn to the cover and title, so beautiful and evocative of warm summers by the ocean with beautiful people and delicious food.
Liza Klaussmann is a former journalist whose debut novel, Tigers in Red Weather, won the British National Book Award and the Elle Grand Prix for Fiction. In 2012, Liza was named Amazon UK’s Rising Star of the Year.
When Gerald and Sara’s friendship blossoms into love, they know their relationship is one for a lifetime. Based on the lives of the real Murphys, and set over several decades from 1890s New York to 1920s France, the story accounts their lives on the Riviera and the eclectic array of guests (including the Fitzgeralds, Hemingways and Picassos) that attended their famous dinners. These are the men and women who had a tremendous impact on Gerald and Sara as friends, lovers, muses and nemeses.
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
If I had a mind palace, it would be Gerald and Sara’s house on the Riviera during the 1920s. What a gorgeous location and Liza Klaussmann provides in luxurious detail how the Murphys enjoy every blue sky and ray of sunshine. On top of this dazzling setting is the story of Gerald and Sara, two awkward ducklings who found love and the safety to be their true selves in their marriage. Their relationship is full of shadows and light, but I admired how they trusted each other implicitly, and always put each other and their family first.
The real people who were characters in the book was definitely a highlight for me; however, I was constantly confused about other characters who kept popping up and what exactly was their connection to the Geralds.
What is it about the Lost Generation that makes the people from this time period so entrancing? Even the characters in the book grasp to define who they are and what is happening. I haven’t read a lot of books either by authors from this era or books about this era, but I wholly enjoyed reading Villa America. Although Gerald and Sara’s life was glamourous and full of beauty and art, they suffered a fair amount of tragedy that neither money nor connections could spare them.