Costalegre

Costalegre

One of Literary Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019.A Best Book of Summer at amNY, Moda Operandi, Publishers Weekly, Southern Living, and Thrillist.A Best Book of July at The Washington Post, Hello Giggles, Refinery 29, TIME Magazine, and Mind Body Green.It is 1937, and Europe is on the brink of war. In the haute-bohemian circles of Austria, Germany, and Paris, Hitler is circulating a most-wanted list of “cultural degenerates”—arti29,  Magazine,at Th...

DownloadRead Online
Title:Costalegre
Author:Courtney Maum
Rating:

Costalegre Reviews

  • Courtney Maum

    BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ.

  • Marcy Dermansky

    Courtney Maum takes us into this other world, where 15-year-old Lara lives in a world of eccentric artists escaping World War II. Hitler, we learned, made terrible water colors. And Lara wants to paint and to be loved and to have a door to her room.

  • Jill

    The year is 1937. A bitter little man disparagingly nicknamed Schlecty (better known to the world as Hitler) has declared a ban on modernism in the Reich. His former art school mates, denounced as degenerates, have been bankrolled by Leonora Calaway (think: Peggy Guggenheim) and fled to the jungles of Costalegre. And bearing witness is Leonora’s neglected 14-year-old daughter Lara, whose insights and observations drive the story.

    Temporarily unschooled and unmoored and unloved by her

    The year is 1937. A bitter little man disparagingly nicknamed Schlecty (better known to the world as Hitler) has declared a ban on modernism in the Reich. His former art school mates, denounced as degenerates, have been bankrolled by Leonora Calaway (think: Peggy Guggenheim) and fled to the jungles of Costalegre. And bearing witness is Leonora’s neglected 14-year-old daughter Lara, whose insights and observations drive the story.

    Temporarily unschooled and unmoored and unloved by her mother, Lara catalogs the indigenous plants, knowing that she and her mother’s entourage of surrealists, Dadaists, and outcasts are all displaced species. When Jack Klinger, a rebel who may be the one artist her mother doesn’t control arrives, an infatuated Lara regards him as a sense of solidness amidst the mayhem.

    This is a lovely book, filled with longing and yearning, of a girl on the cusp of adulthood who straddles the barriers between privilege and want. All of the themes of coming-of-age are here: loneliness and alienation, desire and want, internal growth and the power of imagination.

    Most of the characters are inspired by real-life counterparts—Guggenheim and her real-life daughter Pegeen, artists such as Andre Breton, and more. The location of Costalegre also plays a role: lush, exotic, filled with myths and tales, fodder for a young would-be writer and diarist. It’s a fine book that dazzles the reader.

  • Bonnie Brody

    This gem of a novel takes place in 1937 as WWII is about to commence. Hitler is in power and he is rounding up people who do not support his regime, perceived degenerates, and political enemies. Artists are among those in danger. Leonora Calaway is a rich heiress who is very interested in art and has a wonderful surreal and dadaist art collection. In a sense she is an 'art groupie'. She tries to save some of the 'degenerate' artists who are about to be jailed or who have already been incarcerate

    This gem of a novel takes place in 1937 as WWII is about to commence. Hitler is in power and he is rounding up people who do not support his regime, perceived degenerates, and political enemies. Artists are among those in danger. Leonora Calaway is a rich heiress who is very interested in art and has a wonderful surreal and dadaist art collection. In a sense she is an 'art groupie'. She tries to save some of the 'degenerate' artists who are about to be jailed or who have already been incarcerated. To do this she takes the artists to a remote area of Mexico called Costalegre and hires a boat to transport their art to Mexico. When the boat arrives, she wants to open a museum in this remote place.

    The novel is told in the voice of Leonora's 14 year old daughter, Lara. Lonely and mostly ignored by her mother, Lara writes in her journal to try and understand the artists and the events occurring around her. She calls the artists 'the loonies', crazy people her mother collects. Her mother's husband is known as 'new father'. Lara yearns for stability intimacy and misses her best friend Elizabeth who lives in England. She misses her brother and 'real dad' as well. She worries that she is not getting schooling because her mother has neglected to hire a tutor for her. Lara is also distraught because her mother keeps moving from one place to another.

    As Lara watches the Bacchannalian games and parties, she is often disgusted. She tries to find pleasure in being near horses and doing some drawing. She yearns for her mother's attention which, sadly, is not forthcoming. What Lara thinks is that her mother brought her along as a pretty ornament, not because she is loved. For the most part, the artists also ignore her and she views them as self-serving narcissists.

    As Leora becomes aware of the different body types she views during the artists' drinking games and swimming parties, she develops a skewed self-image and borders on anorexia. She is desperate to have someone pay attention to her and acknowledge who she is. To this extent she becomes enamored of the outcast Dadaist artist Jack Klinger.

    What might Lara do to get Jack's attention? How can she create something beautiful so that her mother will appreciate her? When will life be stable? These are the issues that a mature 14 year old ponders. Though privileged materially, she is a girl who wants a mother who loves her along with a stable homelife.

  • Kelly Well Read

    I'm reviewing Costalegre by Courtney Maum as I just turned the last page and it's still fresh on my mind. I will tell you that this is not a book I would normally choose to read, but after reading it I am again so impressed with the titles coming from Norton and Tin House lately. I loved The Key to Treehouse Living last year, Biloxi this year, and now this beautiful and strange novel, Costalegre.

    Based loosely on the lives of Peggy Guggenheim, her daughter Pegeen, and the surrealist art movement

    I'm reviewing Costalegre by Courtney Maum as I just turned the last page and it's still fresh on my mind. I will tell you that this is not a book I would normally choose to read, but after reading it I am again so impressed with the titles coming from Norton and Tin House lately. I loved The Key to Treehouse Living last year, Biloxi this year, and now this beautiful and strange novel, Costalegre.

    Based loosely on the lives of Peggy Guggenheim, her daughter Pegeen, and the surrealist art movement that Peggy supported during WWII by rescuing numerous artist and artwork from "Schlechty" (the nickname for Adolf Hitler), the author has chosen to place all these characters in the jungles of Mexico instead of New York (which can be a "jungle' itself, when you think about it).

    Costalegre is a slim novel narrated in journal entries by 14 year old Lara, who finds herself in a strange land with even stranger people, and most tragic of all, a mother, Leonora, who is so caught up in the "art" of her guests that she ignores her daughter and leaves her entirely to her own devices.

    Without a tutor to educate her, Lara is learning about life from the kaleidoscopic world around her, with her only friends being the neglectful, narcissistic artists who struggle to "work" with few supplies, food, or inspiration. Since her father and brother stayed behind in Switzerland to wait out the war, Lara is truly on her own; and her only real pleasure is attempting to draw and paint herself, which the reader gradually realizes is the only way she can gain any attention from the self-obsessed adults orbiting her life.

    The theme of "disappearing" resonates in this novel: horses, a goat, the servants, and finally some of the artists themselves disappear, too. Lara feels invisible, and when she is thrown from a horse and gone for a night, no one realizes she was even gone - she may have well disappeared herself.

    When an older male artist, who has lived in Costalegre full time since escaping Germany, expresses dismay that Lara is living in such circumstances, is it any surprise that she latches onto the one person in her world who seems to care about her?

    The novel ends rather suddenly, and at first I was disappointed that there wasn't more closure to the story. But upon reflection, I realized that I was feeling so much like Lara, having lived with her voice all day as I read: there is no closure for her in Costalegre. She knows not what the future holds for her, and when anything will get any better. She says near the end: "If I could speak the language here, I could call for a boat. But what kind of boat? To where? And I can't travel alone, not really. What a curse to be a girl!" And, "I should be an orphan; at least I'd be in school! At least people would make sure that I was in bed at night, at least, that! Instead of this, which is never-ending nothingness, nowhere for me to be."

    She ends with the hope that the ship that her mother commissioned with all the art from Germany will sink, so "there'd be nothing left to fawn over and boast about and move around the world for and maybe she [Leonora] would be emptied enough to finally mother me."

    Getting to know Lara has been beautiful and sad and worthy. Costalegre is a short novel with a much larger story than its length suggests, and the emotional impact will linger. Really well done.

    Thanks to Tin House Books and W.W. Norton Library Marketing for the ARC.

  • Cassie (book__gal)

    (3.5) Costalegre is based loosely on art heiress Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen. It is narrated via diary entries from 15-year-old Lara after she has been transplanted to Mexico by her mother and her gaggle of eccentric artists, as fascism rises in late 1930s Europe. The slim novel is essentially a meditation on Lara’s yearning for her peculiar mother’s love, to be seen, to have a sense of stability that we all crave in the precarious teen years. The writing is simply lush.

    “The surrea

    (3.5) Costalegre is based loosely on art heiress Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen. It is narrated via diary entries from 15-year-old Lara after she has been transplanted to Mexico by her mother and her gaggle of eccentric artists, as fascism rises in late 1930s Europe. The slim novel is essentially a meditation on Lara’s yearning for her peculiar mother’s love, to be seen, to have a sense of stability that we all crave in the precarious teen years. The writing is simply lush.⁣

    “The surrealists think that passion is important, that nightmares are important. But they don’t value simplicity, which is how I think of love. This patient, tense, and quiet thing that is leaving someone alone."⁣

    “A pen in hand tempts misery from its shadows.”⁣

    “When I think of swimming underwater, I think of swimming through shattered wine glasses and the twisting, slow cravats.”⁣

    Maum has created a delicate and tender portrait of a girl on the cusp; of adulthood, love, freedom. At times I wanted more - more dialogue, more plot development, and had a small yearning for a fully-fleshed out novel of this daughter and mother living in a house of artists in the jungle, but I appreciate the book for what its intentions were. Sitting with Lara’s thoughts and musings as she navigates tumult gracefully was a delight.

  • switterbug (Betsey)

    This is a spare, elegiac, poetic, and moving book of longing, especially the hunger for parental love. I read it in one sitting. But I ask myself—would I have liked it as much if it wasn’t an historical, fictional portrait about the daughter of the celebrated and enigmatic Peggy Guggenheim? Did that add just the right mystique, knowing that this wasn’t just ANY fourteen-year-old? It’s hard for me to say, as that fact pervaded the narrative. However, I was transported by the voice of the narrator

    This is a spare, elegiac, poetic, and moving book of longing, especially the hunger for parental love. I read it in one sitting. But I ask myself—would I have liked it as much if it wasn’t an historical, fictional portrait about the daughter of the celebrated and enigmatic Peggy Guggenheim? Did that add just the right mystique, knowing that this wasn’t just ANY fourteen-year-old? It’s hard for me to say, as that fact pervaded the narrative. However, I was transported by the voice of the narrator, Lara, the daughter of the art philanthropist, Leonora. The relationship is fraught, as the mother is a self-centered and self-serving woman incapable of love.

    Written like a diary by Lara, she also includes letters to her brother and the botanical lexicon of numerous plants and flowers of the exotic locale, Costalegre, on the Pacific and western side of Jalisco, in Mexico. It is 1937, and Hitler’s power is gaining momentum. There have been several movies and books (fiction and non-fiction) about the “heroes” who hid some of the great art from the Nazis, so that Hitler wouldn’t destroy it (if it didn’t conform to his politics). Here is another—but the thrust of the novel is not about the adventure of hiding the art; it is about an intelligent, artistic, and neglected adolescent girl seeking love and connection.

    Leonora has taken Lara, her current husband, and several surrealist artists with her to Costalegre, where she feels secure from Hitler’s advances. She awaits a boat that is supposed to be coming, stored with the art that Leonora wants to sequester away for safe keeping. She doesn’t care that she has taken her daughter out of school and far away from her brother. Her concern is her art/artists, good food, sex, attention, and having control over everyone in her life.

    There’s a lot of white space in this book, which allowed room for me to silently convey my thoughts and feelings in response to Lara’s words. Her sensitivity and maturity is eloquently manifested, despite her mother’s indifference. She seeks kinship during her sojourns on the island, and I was captivated by her awkward but tender appeal to attain a deep connection and understanding.

    “That he will tell me something and it will be true. That he will continue to live in his small house…and listening to people…I don’t think I have ever been contemplated.” Like all of us, Lara yearns to be contemplated, observed, considered. She craves affection and reciprocity. Her growth pains and emotional hunger pains are lightly stated but deeply felt.

  • Paltia

    Costalegre translates to coast of joy. For Lara, the 15 year old diarist, it is more like the jungle of interpersonal relationships. Her father and brother have remained in Switzerland as WWII rages on. Her mostly indifferent mother has brought her to live in Mexico along with a group of artists. Lara refers to them as loons. She feels invisible. She writes of how nice it would be to have someone to hold and tell your secrets to - instead of a diary which has no arms. The jungle is a place that

    Costalegre translates to coast of joy. For Lara, the 15 year old diarist, it is more like the jungle of interpersonal relationships. Her father and brother have remained in Switzerland as WWII rages on. Her mostly indifferent mother has brought her to live in Mexico along with a group of artists. Lara refers to them as loons. She feels invisible. She writes of how nice it would be to have someone to hold and tell your secrets to - instead of a diary which has no arms. The jungle is a place that hints at the possibility of danger. “ it is an ultimate foolishness to brave the jungle alone.” One of the artists living at the casita has created a painting which includes Lara. It hints at the possible dangers and terrifying possibilities of her sexuality. Her nightshirt stops above her buttocks and then nothing until her slippers. “The pink cleft and blue shoes. Things she is supposed to forget.” All around is the heat. The rain that threatens to arrive. Lara realizes there’s something dangerous out there but with little to keep her at home she hops astride a horse and off she goes. The story of a lonely adolescent female desperate for someone to care. I was left with this thought. When safety is chosen over pleasure the joy renounced will always remain in one’s memory.

  • Julie Ehlers

    is one of those books that's easier to admire than to enjoy. In this short novel, a wealthy socialite named Leonora gets a small group of artists and writers out of Europe ahead of WWII and settles them in a remote house on the coast of Mexico. Anyone who's ever seen a season of

    or

    knows there's no way all these strong personalities are going to get along for more than a few days at a time. Leonora is apparently based on Peggy Guggenheim; the writers and artists are based on real wri

    is one of those books that's easier to admire than to enjoy. In this short novel, a wealthy socialite named Leonora gets a small group of artists and writers out of Europe ahead of WWII and settles them in a remote house on the coast of Mexico. Anyone who's ever seen a season of

    or

    knows there's no way all these strong personalities are going to get along for more than a few days at a time. Leonora is apparently based on Peggy Guggenheim; the writers and artists are based on real writers and artists; and 14-year-old Lara, our narrator, is the daughter Leonora neglects in favor of art, and the attention and "love" her financial support of the arts can garner her. The book also contains excerpts from a real book about Mexican flora, and includes a few of Lara's own drawings as she strives to become an artist in her own right.

    This novel is well-intentioned and it has its good points, most particularly a strong sense of place, but to me it felt labored, trying to do too much in its short length. Lara is the only kid at the house in Costalegre and isn't privy to everything that's going on there; all we know is what she tells us. There's a pervasive feeling that she, and by extension the reader, is always outside of the real story—not just the story of her mother and the artists, but the story of what's happening over in Europe and to the people they left behind. This is no doubt intentional, and it does give the reader a strong sense of Lara's emotional isolation... but it also strands the reader outside most of the action and mutes what should be vivid. I think this book achieved what it set out to do; I'm just disappointed that what it achieved wasn't more appealing to me. I hope the next novel I read has a much stronger protagonist who's allowed to be at the center of her own story.

    I won this book via the Tin House Galley Club. Thank you to the publisher.

  • Maureen

    1.2 stars only because it is an arbitrary number to represent the arbitrary nature of this book. Aimless, plotless, pointless, ineffectual, and a futile effort at a poorly executed vanity project. The only good thing I have to say about it is that I am done with it. I hated this book.

Best Books Online is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2019 Best Books Online - All rights reserved.