L'America

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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.


Praise for L’America

Surely by now some clever scientist has studied the similarities between the human brain in the throes of new love and the human brain while vacationing in a picturesque foreign country. Doesn’t it seem likely that whatever chemical causing the rapture we feel after that first, fantastic kiss is the same one making us swear we’ve never tasted an espresso as good as the one in this little Roman cafe? The sequence is the same, whether we’ve fallen hard for a place or a person: astonishment (I’ve never felt this way before); followed by euphoria (everything looks, tastes, smells and sounds so much better than it did yesterday); followed, typically, by a kind of naïve determinism (this was simply meant to be, and it would be wrong, cosmically wrong, not to rearrange my life to make this a major part of it)…

Jeff Turrentine, The New York Times | Read the full review

Ms. McPhee does a credible job of conjuring the ardor that Beth and Cesare feel for each other: that mix of physical attraction, emotional chemistry and inexplicable magic that can act as a magnet, pulling two people together across time and space.

The New York Times

Beth walk[s] in the footsteps of Daisy Miller and Isabel Archer. McPhee has plenty of fun updating Jamesian tensions for the NATO era.

The New York Times Book Review

The story unfolds with the impressionistic randomness of memory. The contrasting of American and Old World viewpoints through repeated layers of telling and detail is the novel’s primary satisfaction.

The Washington Times

Captures the headlong energy of falling in love for the first time and discovering a sensual culture. A transcendent ending.

The Los Angeles Times

L’America leaves trails of vividly seductive prose…[and] evokes the exhilarating incendiary first love.

The Seattle Times

An unabashedly romantic and readable epic of doomed love. A lovely, lyrically spun story.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

McPhee’s latest novel makes sparks fly for nearly 300 pages. She eloquently re-creates that ineffable sense of loss and longing at the heart of all great affairs.

The Newark Star-Ledger

McPhee..beautifully and hauntingly limns the impact the impact of worldviews at odds.

San Francisco Chronicle

At its core, L’America is as much an exploration of the turns of fate that shape its protagonists’ lives as it is a study of the ways in which these lives are predetermined by the history that precedes them. Far from a literary behemoth, the novel is a quiet, scenic portrayal of life simply being lived. Its progress runs alongside that of its characters, characters who “[greet] each other with smiles and stories of their tangled dramas as they have for so many years and generations, same as they do everywhere, ordinary people engaged in ordinary lives that amount to everything…

Harvard Book Review

An epic love story. McPhee’s prose oozes with sensuality…every word is gorgeous and intentional and visceral. A phenomenal read from start to finish.

The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

Romance rules in L’America.

Harper’s Bazaar

McPhee’s unflinching gaze follows [this] cross-cultural affair to its poignant end.

More Magazine

A sensuous and finely modulated tale about wandering and rootedness, desire and destiny. 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 (starred review)

[This] is the sort of smart, passionate, all-consuming, impossible love affair that is both breathtakingly sensual, shockingly selfish, and finally, bafflingly cruel. McPhee draws the reader into the lives of this irresistibly spirited, intensely determined couple.

Library Journal (starred review)

This story of an American and an Italian who meets on a small Aegean island is a novel rich for the senses.

Book Sense Bestseller List (recommended)

A rapturous but socially acute fable of cross-class love. McPhee’s lush, erotically charged prose evokes their erotic obsession—and the glamorous Old World locales where it blossoms.

Publisher’s Weekly

Like Henry James, McPhee…asks big questions about European tradition and American ‘newness,’ while offering an absorbing account of first love.

Bookmarks Magazine

A heartbreaking and transformative love story.

Pages Magazine

When Beth and Cesare meet one untroubled summer on the small Greek Island of Paros “floating in the Aegean like a song,” they begin an affair that will last for more than two decades. The attraction is instant, the love between them a formidable force, “the draw, the pull, the urgency behind the love – the desire to conquer the impossible.” The blond-haired, blue-eyed Beth is only eighteen years old when she meets the dark, swarthy Cesare on some steps leading up to a whitewashed pensione. His eyes lock onto hers for an instant only, but long enough for her to feel a shock and a stab – “and then nothing was the same….”

Curled Up | Read the full review

Anyone who had ever traveled to a foreign country and fell in love — with the country or a person — will relishL’America. I never wanted it to end.

Laura Fraser, author of An Italian Affair

L’America is a heartbreaker of a book about everyday people made extraordinary by love.

Washington Post Book World

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