Villa America was, perhaps, my most anticipated read of the summer. I loved Liza Klaussmann‘s last novel, Tigers In Red Weather (review), so much. That plus the fact that Villa America recounts the life and times of Sara and Gerald Murphy and their famous friends, including Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso, and I felt certain that this book was going to steal the summer.
And Villa America is very good. It is everything you’d expect – a boozy summer read about writers behaving badly. It’s just that I think I’ve reached peak “Lost Generation being self-indulgent and drunk in Europe”, for lack of a better phrase. That is, Villa America goes over much the territory covered by:
- The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
- Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood
- Z by Therese Anne Fowler
- Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill
- That Summer in Paris by Morley Callahan
Who would like this book? I that at one time or another all of us literary buffs have been at least a little bit intrigued by the writers and painters cavorting in France in the 1920s and 1930s. Villa America certainly scratches that itch. And Klaussmann adds to the story by including a made up story line involving forbidden love. The book captures one of the dreams I hold close to my heart – having a villa on the Riviera where friends come to relax, drink and bask in the sun – perfectly. She also shows how the best laid plans can go awry. But in the end, Tigers in Red Weather captures much of the same mood, and gives a more compelling story.