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3.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  137 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
In the brilliant Greek sunshine of a small Aegean island, Beth and Cesare meet—beginning a transformative love affair that spans two continents, two decades, and two lifetimes. Cesare is a privileged Italian boy, raised in a prosperous town where his family has lived for five hundred years; Beth, an ambitious American dreamer born to hippies and raised on a commune. The ev ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 2006)
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Mar 11, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it
On the surface L'America is a love story, but it ends up being about class and national identity, and how both are hard to get around even for love. The writing style is rich and evocative, and the fact that we know from the start that it is not a "love conquers all" story lets you observe more closely the roots of their conflict. The two main characters are Beth, an American who grew up on a semi-commune in rural Pennsylvania (with some polish added in NY, NY), and Cesare, who is the privilege ...more
Oct 10, 2010 Andrea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I'm not sure about this one, the writing is confusing at time. I picked up the book because the premise seemed to make for such a good story. An American girl falls her Italian friends love interest while on vacation in Greece. The book is confusing because the person telling the story keeps changing without warning. I was going to put it down around page 30, I hope I'm not going to regret that!

So I kept reading and I'm not happy that I spent so much time reading this book. I'm standing behind t
Aug 18, 2014 Geoff rated it it was ok
Honestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used to select my next book.

Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the
Jul 17, 2007 Mary-Ellen rated it it was ok
This is a not-so-sweeping love epic. I picked it up because the story is set in Greece, Italy, France, U.S. etc, and I read to experience things I cannot in my everyday. Having said that, I never really was grabbed by the story. It was difficult to read...unemotional. It's the kind of book that I might try again. Afterall, the first time I read The English Patient I just did not like it, the next 3 times I read it, I fell in love with it completely. So maybe I just need to give it another try.
Cher Johnson
Apr 12, 2015 Cher Johnson rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carly Mae
Aug 06, 2007 Carly Mae rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I discovered this book on my own. It is probably one of the best books I've read in a few years. It's one of those that really spoke to me, but I couldn't tell you why or how without some time to think about it. It was just so wonderfully painful, tragic through and through.
Jul 23, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
the reader knows early on that this love affair is doomed, yet the story of cesare and beth is so compelling, you're willing to invest the time. lush language, beautiful descriptive passages. i want to go to italy and experience its romance and beauty!
Feb 13, 2009 Melanie rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I wanted to like this book, but it didn't seem to go anywhere. You know the ending from the beginning. I kept reading thinking that there must be something more...there wasn't.
Jul 24, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Lovely writing - evokes and connects time, place, identity and emotion throughout. The travelogue-esque nature of it will satisfy wanderlust if unable to travel at the moment!
Aug 11, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Relived my brief life in Italy and was gripped throughout by the great writing and story.
Jul 24, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it
A long distance love story for the young at heart.
Mar 04, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
Study abroad, Italy, first loves, art history, idealized organic communes... if this book was aimed for a certain demographic, then I fell for it (doesn't hurt that the main character's name is Beth, either). But I did fall for this book. The story of an American meeting her destined love-of-her-life, an Italian heir, is easy to read and convincingly takes readers to Italy in years ranging from the Renaisannce to the seventies, and New York in the eighties to post-9/11 with stops in Greece and F ...more
Dec 16, 2008 Alicia rated it really liked it
L'America by Martha McPhee has been the most profoundly moving book I have read so far this year. The story of an American woman and an Italian man who fall in love and never can be together, not because of some evil plot or debt of honor but because they both have dreams that cannot blend together, expectations from their families and cultures that hold them tight. The story starts with the man getting a letter from his ex-lover's husband letting him know that she has died. He remembers the beg ...more
Taylor Allison
Very good twisted and dark (ish) love story. Had a hard time finishing it though, probably just busy with the holidays,,,
Bookmarks Magazine

Like Henry James, Martha McPhee, author of Bright Angel Time and the National Book Award?nominated Gorgeous Lies, asks big questions about European tradition and American "newness," while offering an absorbing account of first love. Critics praised McPhee's superb writing, pitch-perfect dialogue, and flesh-and-blood characters. (Only Michiko Kakutani asked why readers should care about such selfish and stubborn creations.) L'America circles around itself in a layered, multidecade narrative, whi

Jun 28, 2010 Beth rated it did not like it
What a crap book.

I thought this would be so good - a love story about an American girl who meets an Italian boy while both are on holiday in Greece. What could go wrong?

Everything. This author did a terrible job of telling the story. The point of view changes constantly, there are random and frequent changes in continuity, way too many boring storylines, and not enough about the main characters. Why couldn't she just tell a linear story about Beth and Cesare, and how they fell in love, what thei
May 20, 2007 liz rated it liked it
Shelves: literary
I completely adored McPhee's first novel, "Bright Angel Time." I think it has my absolute favorite opening paragraph of any book I've ever read. And so I was excited to see that her latest is about Italy. She's one of those writers who amazes me with the things she's able to observe about people (how does one disconnect oneself so successfully?). The subject matter was a little bit difficult, though -- it's about two people, an American girl and Italian boy, who are the loves of each other's liv ...more
Jan 13, 2008 June rated it liked it
Do not judge a book by the stars I give. I liked the book a lot, but I didn't love it. I think the idea of reconciling romance and love with love of country and culture is a really interesting one that the author developed well. But I also feel that Beth's culture and country is not typically American because of her upbringing in a hippie commune. I felt like that context and childhood was so different that it could have been a story in itself, in which case the conflict with Italy and Ceasare s ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Holly rated it it was ok
This was difficult to rate. I really wanted to like this book, and I did love parts of it. But I was extremely bored by others. The story itself is good (Italy! Doomed love affair!) but told in a detached ("dear reader") way so it can be difficult to care about the characters. Plus, the book jumps all over the place, time-wise. I don't instinctively have a problem with this (I loved Time Traveler's Wife), but I don't think it works so well here, partly because big chunks of Cesare's life are lef ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and complicated love affair that spans two continents, two decades. The story of Beth a free thinking North American, raised in an unusual way and always looking for adventures, and Cesare, from a old and wealthy Italian family steeped in tradition.He has dreams of his own of what could be. So well written, it kept me reading and not wanting it to end.
Nov 20, 2008 Denis rated it really liked it
I didn't expect to like this novel as much as I did. But I found its story and characters engrossing, extremely well written (especially considering it could have fallen into many clichés) and, more than that, I felt that it showed the subtle differences that can divide Europeans and Americans in a very intelligent way. It's also quite moving.
Oct 08, 2011 Jeri rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-books-2011
I loved/hated this book. Loved the characters and prose, but did not like the timeline jumping backward and forward. I have read books before, using this technique and enjoyed them, but found it be be confusing here. I almost stopped reading it early on, but after reading other's positive reviews, I decided to stick with it. And I'm glad I did!
Sep 09, 2008 Michelle rated it liked it
Well-written love story between an American woman and an Italian man. I'm not sure I like the style as it skips around a lot, although I'm also not sure I would've liked the book as much as I did if it was told straight through. Definitely worth your time, though, as McPhee is a lovely writer.
Apr 11, 2012 Hollie rated it it was amazing
This is such a profound coming of age story that examines the endurance and tribulations of love, its trials and consequences, passion vs tradition, and so much more. One can acutely experience the emotions of the characters, and roller-coaster ride that McPhee creates for these lovers.
Dec 02, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I enjoyed the writing style, the settings and the story which is perhaps more realistic than many love stories (except maybe for the extended European vacations). I finished the book last night but find myself thinking about the thought-provoking ending today.
Aug 27, 2013 Sam rated it did not like it
I didn't finish this book. It was boring, it kept switching points of view randomly, it went in long tangents that had nothing to do with the story. I just couldn't finish it. I've been trying to read this thing for weeks and I finally give up.
Oct 24, 2011 Dottie rated it it was ok
a slower read for me... had a hard time keeping up/ interested in this one.... couldn't get into the information that would tell what would eventually happen...not what I'd hoped for...
Jan 07, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
this book is literally a mish-mash of my life and my experiences abroad. the incredibly detailed, specific similarities are frightening.
Jul 24, 2012 Armann rated it liked it
Novel about an America girl who falls for an Italian guy. Love of Italy permeates the author's tale.
Deann Alford
Mar 28, 2014 Deann Alford rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
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Martha McPhee graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and received her M.F.A. from Columbia University.

She is the author of four novels: Dear Money; L'America; Gorgeous Lies; and Bright Angel Time. Her work has been honored with and supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Gorgeous Lies was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2002. She lives
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