It was a different time, but so many points in this fascinating read are relevant today. This biography of Sara and Gerald Murphy is so entertaining that it reads more like a fictional novel than a very true to form life story. The Murphy's were both children of Privileged upbringings. Both came from industrious families - hers from the oil industry - his from commerce. The magical thing about the Murphy's was the passion they had for life. Time after time they put the happiness of their family before the constrains of society or the moralistic codes of the times. The story is set in NYC and the expatriate rich France - from Paris to Antibes during the 1920's.
The details of their lives don't seem possible! There is too much for one life! The Murphy's were benefactors to just about every artist of the era. They were supporters of F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who were as notorious as they were talented. The murphys often bailed out this financially strapped writer. Fitzgerald would base Dick Diver from Tender is the Night on Gerald Murphy! Hemingway was also a big part of their life. In fact Ernest was so entranced by Sara - it is said that most of the female love interests in Hemingway's stories were based on the married Mrs. Murphy.
Pablo Picasso painted Ms. Murphy on the beach in Antibes, France - as she was known to wear pearls to the beach strung down her back. Oh, I forgot to mention - they invented sunbathing on the riviera. Yes, you read that right. The Murphy's actually convinced the Hotel du 'Cap in Antibes to stay open during the summer so they could be at the beach. At the time no one spent time in the sun during the summer because it was too hot. The Murphy's actually raked the beach and invited their friends- Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter and screen legend Rudolph Valentino.
As I said, it is page after page of detail rich story. It is also a must read for any fan of fashion due to the descriptions of shopping trips to London and Paris. Karl Lagerfeld used the Murphy's as his inspiration for the Chanel Spring 08 runway collection. Coco Chanel herself makes a brief cameo as well. What more can you ask for??!! The book cover is the actual picture that ran as the COVER of Harpers Bazaar magazine as an announcement for Sara's wedding. Can you stand it!!
First time novelist Amanda Vaill (published by Broadway Books) really produced a fine piece of work here - it was a New York Times Bestseller when released. If you are heading on a trip anytime soon - this is a wonderful read to take away as it takes you away to another time.