Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (2015)

villaI 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.


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.

4.5/5 Stars


8 comments on “Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (2015)

  1. Buried In Print
    August 12, 2015

    The setting of Tigers in Red Weather is what I remember being so striking about her first novel too; I don’t have this one in my stack yet, but I should remedy that!


    • ebookclassics
      August 12, 2015

      I haven’t read Tigers, but it was recommended to me and I was so impressed by Villa America, I definitely plan to read it.


  2. TJ @ MyBookStrings
    August 12, 2015

    Is this fiction? I’d be interested to read this book, but I’ve had Everybody Was So Young (nonfiction about the Murphys) on my shelf for so long now that I feel obligated to read it first, especially if this one is fiction. But you are right to wonder what the fascination with the Lost Generation is. I wonder that, too


    • ebookclassics
      August 13, 2015

      Villa America is fiction and the author provides a list of books she read and recommends on the Murphys, so I’ll take a peek and see if Everybody Was So Young is on that list too.


  3. Brian Joseph
    August 13, 2015

    Great commentary on this book.

    There is indeed something so intriguing about The Lost Generation. I think it is so for many reasons. Perhaps one of them has something to do with the American and European connections. This is something that seems to fascinate people in many other contexts.

    This sounds really good and I would like to read it.


    • ebookclassics
      August 13, 2015

      Good point about the American and European connection. When I read the book, I was surprised how easily the Murphys and their friends went back and forth living between continents. Maybe it had something to do with all of them all being artists and thinkers, and there was so much culture and art in Europe while America was still new and developing?


  4. Christine
    August 27, 2015

    I’m really looking forward to this book – I am so jealous that you got an arc (but in a friendly way)!


    • ebookclassics
      August 28, 2015

      There seems to be mixed reviews about this book, but I certainly enjoyed it. I was very lucky to get a copy, just the right place at the right time. 🙂


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