This heartbreaking story based on the real lives of Sara and Gerald Murphy is vivid in description and enhances the glamour and lives of their friends which included Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and Cole Porter.
Spanning from 1898 all the way through to 1937, Liza Klaussmann’s beautifully told novel follows the glamorous lives led by Sara and Gerald Murphy in their home on the Riviera and the parties that they threw for their friends – including many familiar names of the 1920’s.
But beneath the seemingly perfect lives, a number of cracked relationships begin to emerge, leading to some intense and difficult situations – including a forbidden love story that is as tender as it is heartbreaking, leading to jealousy and frustration.
Although it isn’t easy to create a story about real life people, what Klaussmann has done is ensure that each of the characters are given enough room to develop into the personalities that the reader is perhaps more familiar with through biographies etc. The complicated relationship between Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda for example is showcased in a number of dramatic and bitter incidents dotted throughout that are uncomfortable to read about, being so vivid that you could almost imagine yourself being in the room with them.
Klaussmann has created a sensitive, compelling and fascinating novel that leaves you wanting to understand the personalities of the characters and their lives even more as well as recreating the glamour of the 1920’s.
It is essentially a story about a tangled web of friendships, relationships and a clear example of how no matter how perfect or smoothly your life appears to be going, life will always put a bump in the road.
Everything is so richly described and time passes by so quickly (almost too quickly) that as much as you think you have got to know the characters, by the end you feel that perhaps you don’t know as much as you thought.
Of course, much of this is down to the time scale of the novel and focus on random situations that occur during the time period – which is fine but it means that the reader can be left lacking in understanding of particular character’s motivations for the way in which they behave.
But this is a vivid and heartbreaking novel that really ends on a bittersweet note of memories of better times that the characters shared, while being a fascinating insight into the lives of those whose work we have appreciated in one form or another.
Villa America is available to buy through Amazon.