The author of The Sunday Times Top 10 Best-Seller, Tigers in Red Weather is back with her second novel, Villa America. Based on the real life letters of the people involved and historical records, Liza Klaussmann tells the story of the socialites Gerald and Sara Murphy but with a fictional twist.
In the roaring 1920’s Gerald and Sara Murphy have left their New York home, passed through Paris and have had the house of their dreams built in the Riviera, christening it Villa America.
Hosting extravagant parties, lazing in the sunshine and being the centre of a social network including Picasso, the Fitzgerald’s and Ernest Hemingway to name a few, their life appears perfect. They’re the untouchable couple, admired by everyone with a beautiful family and living the dream…but there is one man that has the potential to come between them and send a crack through their perfect family image..
Lisa Klaussmann created an enviable world of sunshine, money and luxury in her first novel, Tigers in Red Weather and she continues to create an environment so luscious within her pages that you can’t help but melt right in. The world of perfection she creates is shaken by love, addiction and illness and you can’t help but sympathise with the adults as you realise they are as vulnerable as children. It is Sara who stole my heart but it is Gerald who is arguably the lead character as the latter half of the novel shows the struggles between his sexuality and family responsibility.
Villa America is a gently paced novel that pulls you in with a glorious setting and fascinating characters. I enjoyed it even more once I read the Afterword where Liza describes her research and how much of the story is based on true events. She clearly specifies the difference between fact and fiction which is much appreciated by someone like me who is always left wondering what’s true and what’s not in anything ‘based on a true story.’
I wouldn’t describe this novel as a beach read. Why? Why waste such a beautifully sunny book on somewhere that’s already sunny. Read it on your sofa, while it’s pouring with rain outside and that’s when Liza’s gorgeous writing will truly warm you.
Buy your copy of Villa America from Amazon here.