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Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story Paperback – April 20, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Often considered minor Lost Generation celebrities, the Murphys were in fact much more than legendary party givers. Vaill's compelling biography unveils their role in the European avant-garde movement of the 1920s; Gerald was a serious modernist painter. But Vaill also shows how their genius for friendship and for transforming daily life into art attracted the most creative minds of the time: Picasso, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 470 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st Broadway Books trade pbk. ed edition (April 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767903706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767903707
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AMANDA VAILL is the author of the bestselling EVERYBODY WAS SO YOUNG: GERALD AND SARA MURPHY - A LOST GENERATION LOVE STORY, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award in biography, and SOMEWHERE: THE LIFE OF JEROME ROBBINS, for which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is also co-author of SEAMAN SCHEPPS: A CENTURY OF NEW YORK JEWELRY DESIGN, an illustrated study of the work of her designer grandfather; and she has edited or contributed to a number of other books in the field of arts and culture. Her screenplay for the feature-length PBS documentary JEROME ROBBINS: SOMETHING TO DANCE ABOUT received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming, and the film won an Emmy, a CINE Golden Eagle, and the George Foster Peabody Award.

Before becoming a full-time writer in 1992, Ms. Vaill was Executive Editor of Viking Penguin, where her authors included Ingmar Bergman, T.C. Boyle, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Iris Murdoch, and William T. Vollman. Her journalism and criticism have appeared in such publications as Architectural Digest, ArtNews, Ballet Review, Esquire, New York Magazine, Town & Country, and The Washington Post. She lives in New York City, and has just finished her next book, a narrative history entitled HOTEL FLORIDA: LOVE AND DEATH IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, whose protagonists include the writers Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn and the photographers Robert Capa and Gerda Taro.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Author Bill Peschel on September 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
If anyone could be said to have lived a charmed life, it would be Gerald and Sara Murphy. They were wealthy, artistic and talented, with three beautiful, loving children and a circle of friends who became famous and accomplished in their own right. They gave wonderful parties that are still remembered a half-century later, were generous to those in need, and best of all, Gerald and Sara loved each other deeply, with an affection that grew as they lived their lives to the inevitable, bitter end.

Anyone who has read into the lives of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso and the other expatirot residents of Paris in the 1920s will recognize Gerald and Sara, perhaps unfavorably as hanger-ons who supplied the money the others lived on. That unfair assessment is turned on its head in Amanda Vaill's dual biography of the couple.
The Murphys were more than a bank account who gave parties; celebrity bottom feeders more interested in status than in accomplishments. They were something of an oddity. Both were from wealthy families, yet both wanted more than the family life they craved. Gerald had an eye for art, music and decorating; it was amazing to learn he was first to boost many artists who later became famous; "Grandchildren," he said as he showed them a copy of "Meet the Beatles." "Pay attention. These young men are going to be very, very important."
From their village in the Antibes, which was a backwater when they discovered it, they befriended people like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Archibald Macleish, Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett as well, while Gerald became famous in his own right for his finely detailed studies of mechanical devices: a watch, a machine, of a boat deck and smokestacks.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By S. A Troutt on April 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
Few books deserve to be 'raved' about but mark this one as a definite 5 stars. Brilliantly researched and detailed, the author made these people 'real' to me, I felt I knew them. The Murphys, so very different yet so very much alike were 'The hostesses with the mostest' to all the upcoming glitterati of the 20's furnishing both emotional and monetary support at crucial times to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cole Porter (and others) with a grace and charm that is as impressive now as it was then. It would have been so easy for Vaill just to cover that but she gives the lives behind the facade, the odd and distant relationships with both sets of parents and family, the heartbreak and sorrow of loss of their two sons that seemed to end all the lightness in theie lives. They and the world they had created were never the same after, as both they and their friends even at the time recognized. Its sometimes so easy to forget that the 20's were a brief flickering of a frantic time between a war and a depression. The Murphys lived before and after but somehow they both defined and were defined by that period. This book lets you know them for all they were.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By jack olsen on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
What a beautiful, bittersweet work! It will leave you informed, inspired, exalted -- and annoyed that it doesn't go on for another 400 pp. Gerald and Sara Murphy knew and supported and inspired Hemingway, Dos Passos, Archibald MacLeish, Dorothy Parker, Edmund Wilson, Benchley, Fitzgerald, Philip Barry, the glitterati of five decades -- and yet, in many ways, the Murphys outglittered them all, at least if success as human beings can be measured in terms of fundamental decency and intelligence and kindness combined with impeccable grace and taste. The Murphys had everything, gave most of it away, their treasure and their souls, and enriched the literature of an era. "Everybody Was So Young" will wring you out and leave you in grateful tears.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Spencer on May 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Amanda Vaill has researched this book with admirable skill and diligence. She has given the reader more than adequate detail of the life of the privileged in Paris after WW I. By privileged I mean those with intellectual, artistic or personality advantages that allowed them to make a significant contribution to the life of that great society at the time. In the rich parade of her characters are Hemingway,Picasso and Scott Fitzgerald, warts and all. The main protagonists, Gerald and Sara Murphy are distinguished members of this illustrious group not so much for their academic achievements, but for their uncompromising and ingenuous humanism. Many books have been written about this exciting period of freedom and almost explosive creativity. So why read another, and why read this one? What is important about this book is not a chronicle of events. It is the wonderful revelation of the power of friendship and the passion of relationships within a family. Read this to understand yourself. Read this to feel alongside another human-being the deepest emotions of despair and intoxicating elation. Every human weakness is exposed without judgement. Amanda Vaill's triumph, in my opinion, is that theatre, ballet, literature and painting are laid bare for the reader. The creator and the creation are revealed for viewing in a very fresh way. You, the reader, will judge. But inevitably, you will not escape the excitement and vitality of the amazing life of expatriot Americans in Paris in the 20's trying to excape the strait jacket of their homeland. Not many books make me question my own values. This one did.
Minor criticism: inaccurate Latin quotes.
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