Book Review: Villa America

This book has been on my TBR list for while. Anyone who was anyone spent their summer with Gerald and Sara Murphy on the Fench Riviera.

What I was hoping to get out of this book was a glimpse of the complicated relationship between Gerald and Sara as they socialized with the glamorous people of the Lost Generation who struggled to find themselves in the shifting times.

That wasn’t quite what I got.

The beginning was lovely and it really pulled me in. We got to see their slightly unorthodox relationship bloom and the start of the notable Villa America. The book did a really lovely job of creating a whistful nostalgia for the life of the Lost Generation in that era. 

However, this is where it lost me. Klaussmen created a character by the name of Owen to pull out the internal struggles of Gerald. But the love triangle that was formed because of this was one sided. We got to see what Gerald and Owen thought and felt while all this was going on but Sara got pushed to the sidelines. It left me with so many questions like Was Gerald still intimate with Sara? Did Sara have any idea what was happening? Because really what wife would not get suspicious that SOMETHING was going on if her husband stopped coming around some loving. And if Sara knew about Owen was she ok with it? (The 1920s did pioneer progressive marriage as we know it today)

Homosexuality in the 1920s is something that should be explored through our literature and history texts. A number of noteable people were gay and many were just plain ol’ confused. Likewise, there was a summit by surrealists  There was a lot going on in this area and I am glad that this book covered those topics. 

Perhaps it was because the book was so focused on those topics that it failed to be as character driven as it could have been. This is especially true for the ending. Without giving away any spoilers it felt like the ending was rushed causing a loss of emotional complexity.


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