Synopses & Reviews
In the brilliant Greek sunshine of a small Aegean island, Beth and Cesare meet-and thus begins a transformative love affair that spans two continents, two decades, and two lifetimes. Cesare is a cosseted 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 events of September 11 serve as a catalyst for the unfolding of their story, in which passion struggles against the inexorable force of patria. An examination of the intersection between Europe and America, the old and the new, L'America
is above all a remarkable evocation of the dizzying, life-changing power of first love.
The novel of the American in Europe has a long and lustrous pedigree. Now Martha McPhee joins the ranks of its most impressive practitioners.
"A soft clash of civilizations disrupts romance in this rapturous but socially acute fable of cross-class love. Sojourning in Europe, 18-year-old Beth, raised by her hippie father on a Pennsylvania commune, finds her polar opposite in Cesare, handsome scion of a 500-year-old Italian banking dynasty. For the motherless Beth, Cesare represents the allure of rootedness and gracious traditions. For Cesare, straitjacketed by family, class expectations and a prospective banking career he dreads, Beth represents America's wide-open possibilities, headquartered at her father's egalitarian but entrepreneurial commune, a refuge for dreamers of all stripes seeking to reinvent themselves. Besotted as they are with each other, Beth and Cesare find themselves drawn apart Cesare back to the comforting confines of his hometown, Beth to New York, where her idea of home is a succession of illegal sublets and where she commercializes her love of Italy by writing cookbooks and starting restaurants. McPhee's lush, erotically charged prose evokes their erotic obsession and the glamorous Old World locales where it blossoms but, as in her well-received family sagas Bright Angel Time and Gorgeous Lies, McPhee's real subject is the larger forces that shape individual lives and passions." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"McPhee...is a daughter of the nonfiction writer John McPhee, who is arguably America's most famous literary obsessive, and she has inherited a relish for sharing every detail, no matter how small." New York Times
"With adroit sleight of narrative hand, McPhee dramatizes cultural contrasts, the unending repercussions of first love, the gradual metamorphosis of the self, the erotics of heartbreak, and the consolation of beauty." Booklist
"McPhee draws the reader into the lives of this irresistibly spirited, intensely determined couple even though we know by page 12 that their love is doomed." Library Journal
"[A] heartbreaker of a book about everyday people made extraordinary by love. Sensuous and evocative." WashingtonPost
"Ambitious and literate." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
McPhee received an MFA from Columbia University.