life – will be loaded and fragrant, filled with everything
that is beautiful and different and wonderful
Villa America by Liza Klaussmann is a book I just finished reading. A book that tells the story of the Murphys and their life in 1920s France. Gerald and Sara Murphy were the real-life characters who inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is The Night. And their house, Villa America at Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera (a real-life place too) played host to all kinds of parties with all the best guests – Fitzgerald himself to Picasso to Hemingway to Miro, Joyce and Beckett . And, around them the Murphys created a perpetual aura of luxury, celebration and fun. They were iconic in their own way, in that Golden age way I find so captivating. Europe in the 1920s has always enchanted me – especially France, all those writers and artists collecting and rolling like glitter into parties so huge, so sparkling, so magnificent. Can you imagine? Sometimes I really can visualize and then other times, I sit and sigh and wonder just how it really was. I’ve read and re-read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books…as well as the entire Hemingway anthology…and a smattering of Gertrude Stein – so, this book, Villa America, was one that gripped my curiosity. It had me intrigued. And I loved it, really I did. The 1920s are an easy thematic sell for me – and after finishing this novel, my fascination with the Murphys has been piqued rather than satisfied, but I like that. I like that the book left me charmed and craving more. So much so that I teamed up with Pan Macmillan Publishing to style an outfit inspired by the novel. You already know, I adore this idea. This fusion of fashion and literature… to simply read a book and let the words lift right off the pages into the clothes I wear, how wonderful. If only I could dress in this way everyday. Naturally, here I am playing homage to the lovely Sarah Murphy herself – whom Picasso described as a ‘festin‘ , which is French for banquet. She enjoyed off the shoulder styles, tanned skin, dangling pearls in earrings and necklaces… there are quite a few style similarities between Sarah and I. And with this verging on ridiculous black hat, sunflower yellow gown and a book burtsing with parties in my hand – I can’t help but feel like just that, a banquet inspired by the golden age, a true French Riviera inspired festin….
if you’d like to read the book too, here’s a link
or you can read an extract first here before buying.