Tag Archives: Little Brown & Company

Review: Villa America

Villa America

Villa America
By Liza Klaussmann
Little Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316211369, August 2015, 432pp.

The Short of It:

Based on the real-life inspiration of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night.

The Rest of It:

I have yet to read Tender is the Night but apparently, Gerald and Sara Murphy’s relationship was the basis of the novel. And let me tell you, they are a very interesting couple to read about. Villa America, is a fictionalized account of their marriage and their close friendship with Scott Fitzgerald and is wife, Zelda.

Sara and Gerald meet, marry and throw a lot of parties. Their lives start off glamorous. They purchase Villa America, located on the French Riviera. There, they rub elbows with Hemingway and other notable guests. It’s all very amusing and theatrical and dare I say it, frivolous to a degree.

But things get complicated. Gerald and Sara’s relationship is more like brother and sister than husband and wife and when Gerald falls for someone else, Sara isn’t quite sure how to address it. It’s a different time and the underlying message is that she’s okay with it, but only if she can save face while allowing it. See what I mean? It’s a little scandalous and complicated so for me, the last half of the book was the strongest half. The first half was entirely too much set-up, if you ask me.

The ending was very strange and I’m not even sure I am interpreting it correctly so I will save my thoughts for those who want to chat with me privately about it.

Overall, it has a touch of the glitz and glam we’ve come to expect from the Fitzgeralds. They are always interesting to read about. But I feel as if there was so much more to Gerald and Sara. Much more and in this novel, I felt like the author barely scratched the surface. For this reason, the book was just “okay” for me. Not great.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Her

By Harriet Lane
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316369879, January 5, 2015, 272pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

Two women at different stages in their lives, form an unlikely friendship that eventually leads to something darker.

The Rest of It:

Emma and Nina are close to one-another in age, but that is where the similarity stops. Nina is an accomplished artist with a teen-aged daughter while Emma is the mother of a toddler and a young baby. Nina is polished & sophisticated. Emma on the other hand, is riddled by the daily reminders of motherhood, the cluttered house, the unkempt hair, the dishes in the sink, and the boredom that fills her hours while other women are out having lunch with friends. The two women could not be more different, but when Nina recognizes Emma one day, she sets out to insert herself into Emma’s world and the two form an unlikely friendship with one another.

The story alternates between Emma and Nina and from the very first pages, I just knew that Nina was up to no good. That is actually made very clear from the start and that fact keeps the tension running high as you read about these women. And Emma, who is in awe of Nina and the sophistication she embodies is constantly trying to remember who she was before the kids. When Nina provides her with a much-needed break, Emma has this to say about herself:

I used to know this person, I used to understand her; maybe I’ll get to know her again.

Emma’s need to know Nina is tangible. She’s happily married, but trapped by the day-to-day routine and Nina’s friendship reminds her that there is a life outside of child rearing. But Nina’s motives aren’t entirely clear and so the reader is led along, knowing that something horrible is about to happen…or not.

Lane nails motherhood and that feeling you have when the baby spits up on your clean shirt and you decide to go to Target anyway. Some moms handle motherhood well and others do not. Emma falls between the two. She’s a good mom but tired and has let herself go. She misses her other self, the one that worked 9-5, had interesting conversations and could “do” lunch at a moment’s notice.

The last few pages of this book will make you angry. VERY angry. I won’t give it away but when I first read the ending, I wanted to hurl the book across the room. Now, after sitting on it for a day or two, I appreciate the ending a little more but I suspect that many of you will be angry with the book just because of the ending. Don’t ignore this book just because of the ending because it’s actually quite good and even, dare I say it, brilliant.

I don’t know what else Lane has written but I’d read her again.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.