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Villa of Delirium
Cover of Villa of Delirium
Villa of Delirium
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"Makes you want to travel, do somersaults and stretches, drink champagne in evening dress, read, think ... Intoxicating."—Publishers Weekly

"A deeply human story of beauty and loss."—Christine Coulson, author of Metropolitan Stories: A Novel

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.

"Makes you want to travel, do somersaults and stretches, drink champagne in evening dress, read, think ... Intoxicating."—Publishers Weekly

"A deeply human story of beauty and loss."—Christine Coulson, author of Metropolitan Stories: A Novel

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.

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About the Author-
  • Adrien Goetz is a novelist who teaches art history at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 2, 2020
    A young man comes of age in the artistic and intellectual milieu of belle époque France in Goetz’s lushly detailed English-language debut. Scholar Theodore Reinach hires teenage Achilles, son of servants employed by Gustave Eiffel, to make sketches for Kerylos, his new seaside villa in the Côte d’Azur. Despite the anti-Semitism directed at the Reinachs over their support of Alfred Dreyfus, the house is acknowledged as a creative marvel upon completion. Achilles soon comes to live at Kerylos, where he studies Greek, becomes Theodore’s protégé, and grows closer to the Reinach circle: Theodore’s erudite brothers, Joseph and Salomon; Theodore’s wife, Fanny; and Joseph’s son, Adolphe, who becomes Achilles’s best friend. Goetz’s tale spans both world wars, which bring tragedy and destruction to the Côte d’Azur, and neither Achilles nor the deeply patriotic Reinach family escape unscathed. The elderly Achilles returns to the house to seek a treasured relic of his past, and while the nominally suspenseful premise of Achilles’s hunt falls slack amid extended digressions into the past, 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.

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    New Vessel Press
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Villa of Delirium
Villa of Delirium
Adrien Goetz
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