"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.
"A novelist finds much to narrate about the fanciful Villa Kérylos on the French Riviera ... Blends fictitious characters' experience at the Reinach estate with historically accurate descriptions of the building's evolution and the occupants' accomplishments and fates."
—The New York Times
"The Villa Kerylos—a house unlike any other—makes both an unparalleled setting and protagonist in this fascinating, erudite novel. Adrien Goetz artfully interweaves dramas of archaeological quest and forgery in an elaborate memory palace traversed by personal obsessions and savage events that shook early 20th century France—from the Dreyfus affair to the Nazi occupation."
—Barry Bergdoll, Columbia University Professor of Art History and former Museum of Modern Art chief curator of architecture
"Goetz instinctually understands the capacity of objects to hold memory and collapse time. In Villa of Delirium he excavates every detail of the past—every staircase, every watercolor, every leather-bound book—to craft a deeply human story of beauty and loss."
—Christine Coulson, author of Metropolitan Stories: A Novel
"Lushly detailed ... 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."
"Part social documentary, part architectural analysis, part quest novel, Villa of Delirium is an intriguing amalgam ... A great deal is revealed of a bygone era. The novel presents a compelling portrait of some unique historical figures, and it recalls the significant role Jews played in French culture. It is also a stark reminder of how fragile that role was."
—Jewish Book Council
"With a fascinating but never stifling erudition, Goetz delves into the background of this almost divine edifice ... weaving a magnificent and educational novel."
—David Foenkinos, author of Delicacy
"Friendships, love, betrayal, and adventure ... Successful in its historical research ... Goetz's exploration of such themes as class disparity and anti-Semitism—set against the construction of a villa based on one from an era, ancient Greece, known for its democratic ideals—adds a certain piquancy to the tale ... Goetz's undertaking is impressive."
"One of the most beautiful passages in contemporary literary history ... There is scandal in the family background, including an allegedly fake archaeological discovery that infects the plot like a virus. Alongside, there is romance. Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy seeks girl ... Goetz is a master ... A fine novel."
—David Brussat in Architecture Here and There
"One of the charms of the book is the back and forth between the Belle Époque in which the villa arose and the Greece of yesterday from which it originates. It is as if these gentlemen with beards and pince-nez sought through the deciphering of tablets and ancient vases the secret of a buried civilization to which they knew they were the heirs."
—Le Figaro Littéraire
"Succeeds in weaving together erudition, humor and intrigue; a triple pleasure for the reader."