Villa of Delirium
Terrific.--Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Letters to Camondo
Makes you want to travel, do somersaults and stretches, drink champagne in evening dress, read, think ... Intoxicating.--Publishers Weekly
Along the French Riviera in the early 1900s, an illustrious family in thrall to classical antiquity builds a fabulous villa--a replica of a Greek palace, complete with marble columns and frescoes depicting mythological gods. The Reinachs--related to other wealthy Jews like the Rothschilds and the Ephrussis--attempt to recreate a pure beauty lost in the 20th century. The narrator of this brilliant novel calls the imposing house an act of delirium, proof that one could travel back in time, just like resetting a clock, and resist the outside world. The story of the villa and its glamorous inhabitants is recounted by the son of a servant from the nearby estate of Gustave Eiffel, designer of the Paris tower, and the two contrasting structures present opposite responses to modernity. The son is adopted by the Reinachs, initiated into the era of Socrates and instructed in classical Greek. He joins a family pilgrimage to Athens, falls in love with a married woman, and survives the Nazi confiscation of the house and deportation to death camps of Reinach grandchildren. This is a Greek epic for the modern era.
Reading group guide for Villa of Delirium is available free of charge at newvesselpress.com.
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About the Author
A novelist finds much to narrate about the fanciful Villa Kérylos on the French Riviera ... Blends fictitious characters' experiences at the Reinach estate with historically accurate descriptions of the building's evolution and the occupants' accomplishments and fates.
--The New York Times
In dazzling and seamless prose ... Goetz achieves a modern-day Greek epic not easily forgotten. Villa of Delirium is, quite simply, a fever dream of art, history, ideas, and love in all its varieties--a seductive symphony of the intellect and senses. Highly recommended.
--Historical Novels Review
--Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes and Letters to Camondo
The Villa Kerylos--a house unlike any other--makes both an unparalleled setting and protagonist in this fascinating, erudite novel. Adrien Goetz artfully interweaves dramas of archaeological quest and forgery in an elaborate memory palace traversed by personal obsessions and savage events that shook early 20th century France--from the Dreyfus affair to the Nazi occupation.
--Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University Professor of Art History and former Museum of Modern Art chief curator of architecture
Goetz instinctually understands the capacity of objects to hold memory and collapse time. In Villa of Delirium he excavates every detail of the past--every staircase, every watercolor, every leather-bound book--to craft a deeply human story of beauty and loss.
--Christine Coulson, author of Metropolitan Stories: A Novel
Lushly detailed ... Goetz pulls off an impassioned portrait of Kerylos as 'a place that makes you want to travel, do somersaults and stretches, drink champagne in evening dress, read, think.' Goetz's deeply felt novel has an equally intoxicating effect.
Adrien Goetz's Villa of Delirium is not merely a historical novel, it's a novel about history. Belle Époque France, Ancient Greece, the two World Wars and the Holocaust: each provides the author his narrative setting but also the ideas he reckons with .... Exhilarating ... It's a remarkable feat of storytelling.
--Open Letters Review
A fascinating, absorbing story perfect for lovers of art, ancient Greece, historical fiction, and the literature of war.
Part social doc-u-men-tary, part archi-tec-tur-al analy-sis, part quest nov-el, Vil-la of Delir-i-um is an intrigu-ing amal-gam ... A great deal is revealed of a bygone era. The nov-el presents a com-pelling por-trait of some unique his-tor-i-cal fig-ures, and it recalls the sig-nif-i-cant role Jews played in French cul-ture. It is also a stark reminder of how frag-ile that role was.
--Jewish Book Council
The novel is a relatively quick, pleasurable read--a testament to the skill of the author and translator ... The depictions are rich and clear ... vividly painted ... Put yourself in a world of sun and sea, of marble and mosaics, of books and learning for learning's sake.
--Reading in Translation
With a fascinating but never stifling erudition, Goetz delves into the background of this almost divine edifice ... weaving a magnificent and educational novel.
--David Foenkinos, author of Delicacy
Friendships, love, betrayal, and adventure ... Successful in its historical research ... Goetz's exploration of such themes as class disparity and anti-Semitism--set against the construction of a villa based on one from an era, ancient Greece, known for its democratic ideals--adds a certain piquancy to the tale ... Goetz's undertaking is impressive.
A re-creation of ... a family that had both immense wealth but was also ultra-intellectual. Based on real-life figures, Goetz describes a fascinating world ... There's a passionate love affair, too ... Goetz fashions quite an appealing novel out of this rich historical material ... an engaging, colorful read.
--The Complete Review
Villa of Delirium is a historical epic that's not afraid to grapple with questions of art and philosophy.
One of the most beautiful passages in contemporary literary history ... There is scandal in the family background, including an allegedly fake archaeological discovery that infects the plot like a virus. Alongside, there is romance. Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy seeks girl ... Goetz is a master ... A fine novel.
--David Brussat in Architecture Here and There
One of the charms of the book is the back and forth between the Belle Époque in which the villa arose and the Greece of yesterday from which it originates. It is as if these gentlemen with beards and pince-nez sought through the deciphering of tablets and ancient vases the secret of a buried civilization to which they knew they were the heirs.
--Le Figaro Littéraire
Succeeds in weaving together erudition, humor and intrigue; a triple pleasure for the reader.