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A dazzling novel set in the French Riviera based on the real-life inspirations for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is The Night.

When Sara Wiborg and Gerald Murphy met and married, they set forth to create a beautiful world together-one that they couldn’t find within the confines of society life in New York City. They packed up their children and moved to the South of France, where they immediately fell in with a group of expats, including Hemingway, Picasso, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald.

On the coast of Antibes they built Villa America, a fragrant paradise where they invented summer on the Riviera for a group of bohemian artists and writers who became deeply entwined in each other’s affairs. There, in their oasis by the sea, the Murphys regaled their guests and their children with flamboyant beach parties, fiery debates over the newest ideas, and dinners beneath the stars.

It was, for a while, a charmed life, but these were people who kept secrets, and who beneath the sparkling veneer were heartbreakingly human. When a tragic accident brings Owen, a young American aviator who fought in the Great War, to the south of France, he finds himself drawn into this flamboyant circle, and the Murphys find their world irrevocably, unexpectedly transformed.

A handsome, private man, Owen intrigues and unsettles the Murphys, testing the strength of their union and encouraging a hidden side of Gerald to emerge. Suddenly a life in which everything has been considered and exquisitely planned becomes volatile, its safeties breached, the stakes incalculably high. Nothing will remain as it once was. Liza Klaussman expertly evokes the 1920s cultural scene of the so-called “Lost Generation.” Ravishing and affecting, and written with infinite tenderness, Villa America is at once the poignant story of a marriage and of a golden age that could not last.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Liza Klaussmann's VILLA AMERICA is so artful and compassionate that I couldn't fail to love the Murphys and everyone who fell into their orbit during those Lost Generation years, all of them fascinating and flawed and human. This is a beautifully rendered story."
Therese Anne Fowler, author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
"What a gorgeous and profoundly moving book. I've been obsessed with the Murphys since I was a young teen...and Liza Klaussmann's novel felt both like it was utterly 'true' to their legend and yet also new and vital. I can't wait for the whole world to get to read it."
Megan Abbott, author of The Fever
"Klaussmann is a magnificent storyteller. Luminous, rich and superbly plotted, VILLA AMERICA swept me up into the deeply human, beautifully drawn lives of the Murphys and their dazzling circles of friends and family. This novel moves at a gallop but I kept stopping to marvel at the subtlety, the grace and the firework prose. I absolutely loved it."
Priya Parmar, author of Vanessa and Her Sister
"Another sensitive fictional portrait of a complicated marriage from the author of Tigers in Red Weather.... Klaussmann makes good use of several fine biographies of the Murphys (cited in an author's note) to capture the magic of a privileged, bohemian existence.... Beautifully written and surprisingly fresh given the well-worn subject matter."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Tense, seductive fiction.... Impressively done."
Sunday Times (UK)
"Real-life figures of the jazz age throw parties on the French Riviera in this exhilarating blend of fact and fiction."
Lucy Scholes, Guardian
"Psychologically lush and gorgeously descriptive.... As disruptive love, betrayal, and cruel fate slowly gain cyclonic force, Klaussmann brings to scintillating and searing life scenes as wildly diverse as a dust storm, trench warfare, the bliss of being airborne above the radiant French countryside, the brittle gaiety of Sara's galas, and forbidden sexual bliss. In literary accord with Paula McLain, Nancy Horan, and Susan Vreeland, Klaussmann presents an enrapturing historical novel about a loving marriage complicated by suppressed desire in a time of now-legendary creative ferment."
Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
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