Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Excerpt from Villa America by Liza Klaussmann, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Villa America

A Novel

by Liza Klaussmann

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann X
Villa America by Liza Klaussmann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2015, 432 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2016, 432 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

1898

Gerald thought about Pitz all the way home from school — he thought about him from the moment the bell rang at the Blessed Sacrament Academy, during the long walk through Central Park, Nurse's hand clamped painfully on his wrist, all the way to his house on West Fifty-Seventh Street — so by the time they reached his brownstone, his excitement was so great that he felt he might pee in his pants a little at the thought that the dog would be waiting for him behind the heavy black door.

Pitz had been his special birthday present when he turned ten, almost a year ago now. Mother had been sick with Baby, whatever that meant, and Gerald had been given Pitz. To teach him responsibility, his father had said. Gerald had heard the words, but they'd barely registered, because at the same moment, the wiry-haired fox terrier had bounded through the door into the drawing room.

Today his friend was exactly one year old and Gerald had smuggled him two butter biscuits from his lunch. He'd been very careful not to let the biscuits crumble in the pocket of his wool coat or to let Nurse find them.

Nurse hated Pitz. She said he was dirty and that he would bite them all one day and might even smother Baby in its sleep. Gerald knew this was a lie. Pitz was special. He had been his special present and now he was his special friend. Pitz was all-around special. Best of all, the dog could read his mind. Gerald had seen him doing it; Pitz would cock his head when Gerald was thinking something secret, and Gerald would know that Pitz knew what he was thinking.

Now, as the black door was opened at last, Pitz was waiting and Gerald almost cried with relief. He didn't know why, but he feared that one day the door would open and Pitz wouldn't be there.

"If you want to play with that filthy beast, it will be out in the garden," Nurse said.

Gerald looked at Pitz, gingerly feeling the biscuits in his pocket. It was January and the wind bit into his nose, but he'd rather be freezing outside with Pitz than warm indoors with Nurse. He moved towards the back door.

"Gerald Clery Murphy." Nurse could make her voice tower. That was the only word Gerald could think of for it, the way it seemed to grow bigger and bigger until it was looming over him. "What do we do first?"

Gerald reluctantly turned and headed for the stairs to change out of his uniform. Pitz just looked at him. He knew better than to try to follow Gerald upstairs when Nurse was around.

The house was chilly and the curtains were drawn against what was left of the day. His father said only invalids lived in warm houses. Murphys, he said, didn't get sick, although Mother had been sick with Baby. Gerald had seen Baby, and Baby looked fine to him. Mother was very white, though, and would call out often for Nurse in a high voice, saying Baby was unwell or that Baby was strange.

On the second floor, Gerald had to be very quiet when he passed Mother's door and the nursery so that Mother wouldn't get upset. Nurse was marching behind him and he hoped she wouldn't try to take his coat, with the biscuits, because then he would be punished and Pitz would be banished to the cellar again. Pitz was supposed to sleep in his basket in the little room off the kitchen. But it was so very cold there; it seemed cold even in summer. At night, if it was quiet, Gerald would sneak downstairs after his prayers and spirit the dog back to his own bed on the second floor.

Sometimes Nurse checked, and if she found Pitz, his friend would be locked in the cellar. Sometimes Nurse wouldn't let Pitz out until the following afternoon, and Gerald would see his friend's eyes, haunted after a day down in the dark with no food or water. When this happened, Gerald knew it was his fault and he wouldn't try to smuggle Pitz upstairs for a while. But inevitably, after a week or so, he would chance it again.

Excerpted from Villa America by Liza Klaussmann. Copyright © 2015 by Liza Klaussmann. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Swans of Harlem
    The Swans of Harlem
    by Karen Valby
    Journalist Karen Valby's first book, The Swans of Harlem, introduces readers to the little-known ...
  • Book Jacket: The Sicilian Inheritance
    The Sicilian Inheritance
    by Jo Piazza
    Sara Marsala is going through a rough patch, to say the least. In the process of divorcing from her ...
  • Book Jacket: The Light Eaters
    The Light Eaters
    by Zoë Schlanger
    The human race is completely dependent on plants. Many people, however, give little thought to ...
  • Book Jacket: Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves
    by J Drew Lanham
    As a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and a Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Long After We Are Gone
by Terah Shelton Harris
After their father's death, four siblings rally to save their family home in this gripping and hopeful tale.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughters of Shandong
    by Eve J. Chung

    Eve J. Chung's debut novel recounts a family's flight to Taiwan during China's Communist revolution.

  • Book Jacket

    This Strange Eventful History
    by Claire Messud

    An immersive, masterful story of a family born on the wrong side of history.

Win This Book
Win Only the Brave

Only the Brave by Danielle Steel

A powerful, sweeping historical novel about a courageous woman in World War II Germany.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

F T a T

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.