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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.
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