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Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara…
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Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love…

by Amanda Vaill

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Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill is a detailed account of the life of artist Gerald Murphy and his wife Sara. They are probably now best known as the basis for Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

They Murphys were good friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway and their families, in addition to many other modernist movers and shakers, many of whom they met in Paris in the early 1920s.

The edition I read was around 360 pages long. It took around 100 pages for couple to meet, marry and then get to Paris. Not much of interest happens before they move to Europe and my main criticism is Amanda Vaill appears to be so in thrall to the Murphys, and has done so much research, that she chose to give the reader a lot of chronological detail. Whilst a logical way to structure any biography, I think this story would have benefitted from being structured thematically. The book contains some fascintating stories and insights into the world of the Murphys, the Fitzgeralds, the Hemingways, Picasso and his family, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter, and so on, however for each nugget there's a lot of less interesting detail to work through.

The Murphys' personal story has more than its fair share of tragedy, and the shadows that darken the story of this handsome, talented, and wealthy American couple, who were at the centre of the artistic scene in Paris and Antibes in the 1920s, is what sticks in my memory. ( )
  nigeyb | Feb 12, 2014 |
Interesting book on Sarah and Gerald Murphy but not a " could not put down" and would like more depth. ( )
  Suzanne_Mitchell | Dec 29, 2013 |
I re-read this book after first reading The Paris Wife (about Hemingway's first marriage) and while re-reading A Moveable Feast (Hemingway's memoir about Paris in the 1920s). Everybody Was So Young is the portrait of the marriage of Sara and Gerald Murphy focusing on their life living as American expatriots in Paris in the 1920s. The Murphys were wealthy and beautiful and attracted to the artistic set living abroad. They befriended Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, and Leger to name just a few. Paris was not only less expensive but more permissive socially than the US during the 1920s and was a destination for young artists who wanted to practice their craft and live a good life. While Gerald dabbled in painting and creating theatrical backdrops, he and Sara were great and generous entertainers who set up house at Villa America in Antibes. ( )
  KatherineGregg | Oct 12, 2011 |
I loved this book enough to go have lunch with the author (who is a delight). This is a wonderful view into the lives of the expat writers during the 1920s. If you are a fan of Fitzgerald or Hemingway, this book will give you some unusual insight into their friendship, inspiration, and writing. ( )
  plettie2 | Jul 8, 2009 |
The story of the livees of Sara and Gerald Murphy is certainly an interesting one....filled with characters such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker and Pablo Picasso. This biography makes these people all come to life and makes one appreciate the role that Gerald and Sara played in encouraging these prominent artists of the early 20th century. I really enjoy this book.
  brendaough | Sep 7, 2008 |
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Sara Sherman Wiborg Murphy was a figure of myth long before the Fitzgeralds and the Hemingways and MacLeishes met her in France. 
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767903706, Paperback)

Gerald and Sara Murphy were the golden couple of the Lost Generation. Born to wealth and privilege, they fled the stuffy confines of upper-class America to reinvent themselves in France as legendary party givers and enthusiastic participants in the modernist revolution of the 1920s. He became an important painter; she made everyday life a work of art. Their friends F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos all based fictional characters on the Murphys; Picasso painted them; and Calvin Tomkins rekindled their glamour for a younger generation in his affectionate 1971 portrait, Living Well Is the Best Revenge. Amanda Vaill's vivid new biography builds on Tomkins's work to provide a full-length account of the Murphys' remarkable life together.

As well as good times, that life included suffering endured with great courage. The Murphys' teenage sons died within two years of each other in the mid-1930s--one suddenly, one after a long battle with tuberculosis--and the Depression forced Gerald to resume the uncongenial work of managing his family's business. Vaill's sensitive rendering reveals the moral substance that enabled this stylish couple to survive heartbreak. But it's her marvelous evocation of those magical expatriate years that lingers in the memory. The wit and imaginative panache with which the Murphys lived sparkles again, recapturing a splendid historical moment. As Sara later said, "It was like a great fair, and everybody was so young." --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:42 -0400)

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