EVERYBODY WAS SO YOUNG by Amanda Vaill

EVERYBODY WAS SO YOUNG

Gerald and Sara Murphy, A Lost Generation Love Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

For connoisseurs of the Lost Generation—a well-tempered biography of the wealthy American couple who knew absolutely everybody, from Hemingway to Fitzgerald to Dos Passos to Picasso, and so on and on. Though Sara and Gerald Murphy both dabbled in the arts, their true genius was for friendship. As Sara once told F. Scott Fitzgerald: “I don—t think the world is a very nice place—And all there seems to be left to do is to make the best of it while we are here, & be VERY grateful for one’s friends—because they are the best there is, & make up for many another thing that is lacking.” Inherited wealth on both sides gave the Murphys the means and leisure to pursue this credo in style across two continents. They were always willing to help artists on the down and out with quiet gifts of money, but it was their ebullient parties that really cemented their reputation. Archibald MacLeish once wrote, “There was a shrine to life wherever they were . . . a kind of revelation of inherent loveliness.” Others were less kind: Hemingway repaid their friendship with slander in A Movable Feast, and they were the model for the Divers in Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. The marriage had its strains, including possible affairs, and Gerald’s probable homosexuality, but it was strong enough to survive any number of blows, including the death of two Murphy children. A former Viking Penguin executive editor turned writer, Vaill tries to make up for the secondary celebrity status of the Murphys by infusing their lives with a sorrowing Gatsbyesque grandeur. It’s an admirable, but not quite convincing, effort. Still her tale is told so well and so crammed with incident and revealing thumbnail sketches of the Lost Generation (often on their worst behavior), one tends to forget the relative unimportance of the Murphys themselves. (24 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 29th, 1998
ISBN: 0-395-65241-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998




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