Also by this author: Tigers in Red Weather
Published by Little Brown & Company on August 4, 2015
Genres/Lists: #30Authors, Fiction, Historical Fiction
I received this book for free from the publisher.
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In 2012, Liza Klaussmann (a #30Authors contributor) wowed me with her novel, Tigers In Red Weather, which was my absolutely favorite book that year. So when I found out that she had another coming out, I was overjoyed. Her latest, Villa America, did not disappoint and I’m thrilled that her second novel lived up to my (high) expectations.
Villa America is about real-life Sara and Gerald Murphy, two expats who found their way to the French Riviera in the 1920’s and, arguably, made it the hotspot that it was at the time. With glamorous parties and an eclectic group of friends that included Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, and F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tender is the Night is based on them), this is a book about a couple who had it all and the secrets they kept from those closest to them…. and themselves.
Beautifully written, the book spans several decades but most of the story takes place during the few years that the Murphy’s resided on the French Riviera. To outsiders, they were the perfect couple. Gerald, an affable and considerate artist, and Sara, attentive and beloved by everyone, were impervious to the caustic forces of their contemporaries. They had a quiet confidence in themselves and each other that kept the dark forces that seemed to touch all of their friends at bay. In the midst of excessive drinking by Fitzgerald and overbearing nature of Hemingway, they became the lifeboat that kept everyone else afloat. In fact, the following sentence sums up their marriage perfectly:
It’s so strange to think of our lives before we knew that we loved each other.
But as with all appearances of perfection, the Murphy’s had secrets that they kept from their friends, each other, and themselves – secrets that require the reader to cast aside everything they think they know about what it takes to make a marriage and a family.Author @LizaKlauss manages to make tragedy beautiful in #VillaAmerica. #MustRead Click To Tweet
Although this is only her second novel, Klaussmann has distinguished herself as a master of subtlety. In each of her novels, she sneaks her way into the unspoken secrets of a marriage and roots out the honest desires of her characters. Rather than being something shameful or dirty, she writes about these secrets with a quietude that I have rarely come across. Somehow, she manages to turn the tragic into something beautiful, even when the consequences are dire. What’s more, her use of foreshadowing is so subtle that when you realize what has happened, you are left breathless wondering how you didn’t see it coming. She did this in Tigers In Red Weather, but she excelled at it in Villa America.
I’m so pleased that this book lived up to (and surpassed) my expectations and can’t wait for Klaussmann to release her next one. She has a big fan in me!
Recommended for: Readers who want a snapshot of life on the French Riviera in the 1920’s or are fascinated by the intricacies and secrets found within a marriage.