Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story
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Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy, a Lost Generation Love Story

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,069 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Handsome, gifted, wealthy Americans with homes in Paris and on the French Riviera, Gerald and Sara Murphy were at the very center of expatriate cultural and social life during the modernist ferment of the 1920s. Gerald Murphy - witty, urbane, and elusive - was a giver of magical parties and an acclaimed painter. Sara Murphy, an enigmatic beauty who wore her pearls to the b...more
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published December 31st 1998 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1998)
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In 1921 wealthy young Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy moved first to England and then to Paris with their three young children, in order to escape the stifling restrictions imposed upon them by their families and the social milieu in which they lived. They were interested in the arts and soon found themselves actively involved in the artistic life in Paris, working on sets for the Ballets Russes, mixing with Picasso, Cocteau and Léger and later with the writers of the “Lost Generation” includin...more
I resented having to place this book down and exit the world that Sara and Gerald Murphy invented for themselves. It was all too easy to slip into the grace and charm of Villa America, or to envision the full-tilt excitement of painting backdrops for Parade and hosting the Ballets Russes set for a drunken soiree in honor of Les Noces ending with Stravinsky jumping through a laurel wreath. (Seeing the 'Misia, Queen of Paris' exhibit at the Musee de Orsay and the Paul Guilliame collection at the O...more
How wonderful to have spent the past several days with Gerald and Sara Murphy. Generous souls, the two were gifted for friendship and for family. They gave their three children an enchanted upbringing at Villa America, their home in Antibes, where they entertained Scott and Zelda, Picasso and Olga, Hemingway and Hadley and later, Pauline (whom they preferred). In the midst of cocktails, style, and genius, they somehow made a very child-friendly experience, with fairy tale garden settings for par...more
Diane Meier
Looking at the reviews here, you wouldn't get it - but in fact, The Murphys weren't particularly rich. They chose Paris - and then the South of France - because they were places of beauty and civility where a dollar might be stretched to its limit. And did they know how to stretch it! On very little beyond loving support and sometimes elbow grease, they helped to midwife, groom and finance much of what became "Modern" in the first half of the 20th Century.

In an earlier book about her parents, Ho...more
Sean Cross O'Brien
I actually started reading this book before the new film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” came out. I think that a person can mature in one’s understanding of the “Roaring 20s” and 30s by reading this book. The reader who cracks this book purely to indulge a guilty pleasure and immerse oneself in a sparkling period of great parties, beauty and artistic advancements is bound to find a very different experience. If nothing else, it left me with the understanding that every time period has its triu...more
Jun 29, 2013 Sera rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sera by: Aylin
I have had incredible fortune with all of the excellent books that I have been reading this year. This book about the Murphy's is no exception. Hands down, Gerald and Sarah Murphy were two of the most generous people around during the early to mid-1900s, and unfortunately, all of that good karma that they should have generated didn't save them from all of the tragedy that they had to face in their lives.

What's great about this book is that there is so much detail around the Murphy's friendships...more
Carmen Gwazdacz
At the epicenter of the European modernist movement were Sara and Gerald Murphy. This “golden” couple” were a wealthy expatriate family that moved the French Riviera following World War I in the early twentieth century. Sara was an heiress and Gerald’s family owned the Mark Cross Company. Originally neither of their parents approved of their marriage. Sara’s family felt she was marrying below her station and Gerald’s family felt Sara was unsuitable. Looking to get away from their controlling par...more
Susan Weinberg
I had read this book many years ago and recently reread it, something I do rarely, but it was well worth it in this case. An extremely well researched and well written biography of a couple, Sara and Gerald Murphy, who were central to many of the artists and writers who emerged in the early part of the 1900s. With a home in Antibes, they hosted many luminaries such as Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Leger and Picasso.They were at the core of this world adding ballast, encouragement and of...more
Elegiac biography of the couple that embodies the twenties and the Fitzgerald era. It's all, of course, incredibly sad. But filled with beauty, intelligence, wit, art, and triumphs. Ah, to have known those people... The talent of Vaill is that she gives us the sensation that we actually meet them and know them - it's as if we were invited to one of the fabulous parties these people organized and shared. She brings the Murphys back to life with poignancy and much tenderness, and with them, it's a...more
Lexy Martin
I've given this book about 120 pages and am abandoning -- just not a book for my cup of tea. I admire the author's dedication to telling this story and love the intersections of the Murphy's lives with the great authors, artists, poets of their time. I finally ended up looking up the couple on Wikipedia just to see how their lives went and that is enough for me. The detail just finally detracted from the story. I did learn a new phrase though that I must use with my research: "noncausal synchron...more
The story of Gerald and Sarah Murphy is one of the most fascinating aspects of the 20's in France. They should have been in "Midnight in Paris". They were young and in love and drew the most interesting people into their orbit. They seemed to have mastered the art of living beautifully. They were totally devoted despite the fact that Gerald was gay.Hemingway and Picasso were in love with Sara. Did she reciprocate? They lost two of their three children to illness. What a compelling story.
I loved this book! Amanda Vaill does a beautiful job of telling us about Gerald and Sara. Truly a fascinating couple. It's really a story of marriage, family and friendship. However, the settings and cast of characters is extraordinary. I read everything else I could find about them after this book. I fell in love with them and my heart broke for them, as well.
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.

The 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 editi...more
Mar 31, 2012 Marvin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Marvin by: John's book club pick
Shelves: non-fiction
Oh, to be an artist or a muse?

Everybody was so Young details...emphasis on the word "details"...the life of Gerald and Sara Murphy, American expatriates who counted as their friends Ernest Hemingway, Picasso, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, among others. They were a focus of the intellectual circles in the 1920s primarily in Paris and the French Riviera. This well researched look at the period has a lot going for it but I found myself wanting more about the actual artistic and intellectual geniuses...more
Maureen M
It's one of the best biographies I've read, rich in context while clearly focused on the central characters. It brings to life this extraordinary couple and the extraordinary time they lived in -- the Gilded Age, WWI, the Twenties, the Depression, WWII and beyond. It fills in the gaps left in other works such as "A Movable Feast" and adds dimensions to the Murphys' famous friends. The author portrays the Murphys in their own words, using the ample collections of letters they left behind. It make...more
Finally finished the book Lyle gave me with the words, "You have to read this. It's good and so sad." Indeed Amanda Vaill's Everybody Was So Young is both of those things: good, in terms of being thoughtful and detailed, and sad in that it sketches a time that has been lost, and also the story of a couple who suffered great losses but kept going through their long lives, trying to be good for something. It's the biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two Americans born into wealth who became inspi...more
Gabriele Wills
A fascinating look at an era and generation. I read this book over a year ago and find it still haunts me. We visited Cap d"Antibes last May, where Sara and Gerald established their Riviera home. What a thrill it was to walk along the Garoupe Beach - which they had discovered - trying to envision what it must once have been like before the Murphys helped to popularize the area. Now, of course, it's thick with tourists. But the imagination can take flight!
Ok, I love love love this time period. The 1920's in France. But this book is so detailed that you have to be a super fan to get through it. I did read the whole thing but it was tough to get all the way through. Interesting relationship between Sara and Gerald and certainly was fun to live vicariously through them. The pirate treasure hunt sounded amazing. But again, who want to know who attended every party and what they wore.
I found this book very interesting. The Murphys seemed really to have been made for each other. The contrast of them with the Fitzgeralds was startling--the Murphys sensible and grounded, though also free-spirited and artistic, the Fitzgeralds so troubled and irresponsible. It was fascinating to read about the Macleishes, the various Hemingway pairings, Dorothy Parker, etc. The Murphys were at the center of such a group of creative people. It was sad to read of their tragedies and losses, but in...more
This book sparked a "Lost Generation" reading jag. Started with Fitzgerald, led to Dos Passos, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Wonderful story about an artistic couple with the wealth to explore their eccentricities. I thought it was slated to become a movie, but haven't seen any progress.
Katie Stafford
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it well researched and profound. Amanda Vaill writes the way I would like to write some day. This book tells the story of a famous couple who lived for some time what many would called "a semi-charmed life." Friends of Picasso, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and many other famous artists and writers, they were beautiful, wealthy, generous, and loved each other very much. They came to face many trials however, with their children, in their marriage, two world wars...more
Tim and Popie Stafford
All about the Murphys, who were the rich, attractive, graceful, generous and talented pair at the heart of the Lost Generation. Very close to Scott and Zelda, to Hemingway, to Picasso, and scores of other lesser lights. The Murphys seem to have been really lovely people, but their lives go quite tragically--particularly and obviously because they lost two children, but also because a great number of their friends turned out to be jerks (talented jerks, in many cases) and because style doesn't tu...more
A vacation into the early twentieth century.
Robert Boyd
I read Calvin Tompkins' Living Well Is the Best Revenge, which was written while Gerald and Sara Murphy were still alive. It's good, but Everybody Was So Young is better--it carries them past their golden decade in France to the more difficult 30s and 40s until their deaths. Murphy was a serious but fundamentally amateur painter whose work is now rightly considered among the best American painting of the 20th century. But his painting was not the couple's primary gift to culture--it was being th...more
Barb Terpstra
It's always curious to pick up a book about history and find out about people who you know nothing about, who influenced the past. Gerald and Sara Murphy are no exception. They were friends to many of the movers and shakers of their day - Hemingway, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker, Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald and Picasso to name a few. They invited these artistic and interesting people into their homes, supporting them in their chosen careers, and often supporting them financially when they were in...more
I could be lost in this generation forever, I think. Fascinating story that encompasses so much of 1920's France and all it's painters, writers, dancers, composers and musicians. I only wish I had come away with a greater sense of who Sara Murphy was, personally. Vaill spends a good deal of time on Gerald's personal attributes- his love of culture and desire to be a cultured man. I knew he was a painter, but I was surprised to learn how good he was. I would have loved one his paintings on my wal...more
This biography skillfully condenses the Murphy's lives delivering an insightful perspective. We see how world events and changing values impact each stage of their lives and the lives of their prominent friends. Everybody Was So Young shows how the views of the members of their artist and literary community contrast with each other in letters and in books such as Tender Is the Night and A Movable Feast.

Vaill portrays the inherent difficulty and sadness of lives built on friendships that are som...more
This was a good nonfiction about the rich couple of the Murphy's, which F. Scott Fitzgerald used as some character/partail characters in Tender is the NIght. It was written by a daughter of a friend, I think with some bias to it. But is was interesting to see how they grew into the item on the Riveria, and how it came to an end as they grew old in New York state. Everyone does face the end of youth, and the rich have their problems to handle. I enjoyed insight into how they created their own wor...more
Unless you're a fan of of Gerald Murphy's razor sharp paintings as I am, you probably have no idea who Gerald and Sara Murphy are. Honestly, if it weren't for his paintings they would not have been famous in their own right; rather, they would be known as the cheerleaders of a generation of artists and thinkers. You may not know who the Murphy's are, but everybody who was anybody in the 1920s knew who they were and probably benefited from their kindness and generosity. This a chatty biography, f...more
Patricia Uttaro
Gifted artist Gerald Murphy and his elegant wife, Sara, were icons of the most enchanting period of our time; handsome, talented, and wealthy expatriate Americans, they were at the very center of the literary scene in Paris in the 1920s. In Everybody Was So Young, Amanda Vaill brilliantly portrays both the times in which the Murphys lived and the fascinating friends who flocked around them. Whether summering with Picasso on the French Riviera or watching bullfights with Hemingway in Pamplona, Ge...more
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Bright Young Things: March 2014- Everybody was so Young by Amanda Vaill 20 25 Mar 25, 2014 04:50AM  
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Living Well Is the Best Revenge (Modern Library)
  • Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company
  • Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930
  • Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
  • Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties
  • Women of the Left Bank
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife
  • Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild
  • Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris
  • Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939
  • Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise
  • Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel
  • Hemingway: The Paris Years
  • Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
  • Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald
AMANDA VAILL is the author of Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and 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. She is also co-author of Seaman Schepps: A Century of New York Jewelry Design, an illustrated study of th...more
More about Amanda Vaill...
Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins Seaman Schepps: A Century of New York Jewelry Design Selected Stories

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