Costalegre by Courtney Maum


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”—artis...

Details Costalegre

Release DateJul 16th, 2019
PublisherTin House Books
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Art, Literary Fiction

Reviews Costalegre

  • Courtney Maum
  • Julie Ehlers
    Costalegre 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 The Real World or Survivor 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...
  • 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 uns...
  • 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 narrativ...
  • 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.
  • 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, he...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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 precari...
  • Cassie
    Read it in a day, three settings. The voice, the extravagance, and the books of the whole world make this book just deliberate, and cunning, and beautiful. I have most pages dog eared for quotes to write down. Thanks Tin House for an ARC.
  • Drew
    I love watching authors do their strange-historical-novel thing. A few recents that spring to mind include ISADORA, VISIBLE EMPIRE, AMERICA WAS HARD TO FIND, and now COSTALEGRE. Maum takes the story of the Guggenheims fleeing Europe before WWII to set up a surrealist enclave on the Pacific coast of Mexico, changes a few things (including names), and boils it all down into the diary of the daughter -- our fictionalized Pegeen Guggenheim, Lara Cala...
  • Sharon
    This short novel is a stunner. Inspired by the complex relationship between art (and artist) collector Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Maum creates a vivid and striking voice in Lara, a precocious and lonely girl coming of age in a tumultuous time. Despite the quick read, Lara will stay with you.This ARC was provided by Tin House Books/Norton, in exchange for an honest review.
  • Kim McGee
    Lara has been whisked away to Mexico with her eccentric mother and her band of artist outcasts. In the lush jungle, this unlikely group of artists continues to create and complain, a bit lost after being forced out of Nazi Europe. Lara is our teen narrator and she navigates through her growing awareness of her own strengths and weaknesses and her ever distancing relationship with her mother. As she struggles to find herself and find her place amo...
  • Jessica Klahr
    I was in just the right mood for this quick, smart, and funny novel and I absolutely loved it. I liked that the concept was really honed in on and we only got the bare bones of the group of artists and their tribulations in Mexico; things could have easily veered into the overly historically informative and complicated but there was a fine balance. Lara was a good choice for the point of view character. We got to experience the landscape and the ...
  • Vincent Scarpa
    “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 new novel from Courtney Maum is always cause for celebration. This might be her finest yet. Compulsively readable, fiercely intelligent, with a cast of unforgettable characters. You’ll want to add this to your list!
  • Jamie
    As with every Tin House book I've ever read, this novel does not disappoint. Strange and atmospheric, I fell into the world of this young girl whose life is a privileged tragedy. Living in a world of art and culture doesn't mean anything to her except loneliness. Working in the arts world, I LOVE the portrayal of these "artists". So biting and sharp. This is a fiesty little novel that packs a big punch.
  • Courtney Landis
    Costalegre is loosely based on the story of Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, who I didn’t really know anything about besides the association with the art museum. Guggenheim was a sort-of-boho patroness of the arts in the early 20th century, and in the 30’s during Hitler’s rise to power helped several of her artist friends that had been marked as “cultural degenerates” escape the continent. In Costalegre, Leonora has taken a boatload o...
  • Annie
    The author’s note at the end of Courtney Maum’s Costalegre shares the inspiration for the novel. Though the details and many of the names have been altered for this book, the kernel of the story is the life of Peggy Guggenheim. In the late 1930s and during World War II, Guggenheim helped artists to escape from Europe and get set up in America. She bought thousands of dollars worth of art—especially art deemed as “degenerate” by the Thir...
  • Kiely Marie
    This book was so stunning, and dreamy, and odd, and was such a poignant story of Surrealist art, World War II, the Mexican jungle, and a teenage girl stuck right in the middle of it. Parts of this book reminded me of Deborah Levy’s HOT MILK, particularly in the dreamy scenery of the hot jungle; other parts reminded me of Dodie Smith’s iconic I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, particularly in its diary format and depiction of absentee parents; most of the ...
  • Rachel
    2.5 stars. The fictional artists presented in this book supported by the fictional Peggy Guggenheim are sniveling, self centered egoists who it would be painful to spend time with. Written as an epistolary novel in the form of a diary by the fictional Pegeen Guggenheim (daughter of Peggy) who is 15 years old. The novel is successful in portraying her teenage angst and captures her voice reasonable well. However the other characters remain two dim...
  • Maria Hummel
    This books is a wonderful way to re-inhabit the surrealist legacy and the influence of Peggy Guggenheim. Its winning narrator, 15 years old, troubled by her mother and curious about everything, makes the book's rare world feel universal.
  • Emily Grace
    Thank you to Tin House for sending me this ARC. All opinions are my own.Review to come.
  • Under Cover Book Club
    Living an inescapable existence on a beach...with your mother.
  • Emily Strand
    A chittering book full of vitality that asks big questions. I'm sure its audience is out there but not my cup of tea as I found little empathy with the characters...though the writing is lovely.
  • Lauren
    Reminiscent of The Diary of Anne Frank and Anna Segher's writings in exile (think “The Outing of the Dead Girls”), Courtney Maum's Costalegre is a coming-of-age tale about survival and the desire to be noticed and loved in the most extraordinary of circumstances.It's 1937 and Lara Calaway is in the middle of the Mexican jungle. Her mother, an eccentric American heiress and art collector, is determined to save her favorite artists and large ar...
  • Tanja Ivovic
    No stars. This book is nothing more than a bored teenagers poorly written diary. Waste of time and definitely not an adult book.
  • Melissa Anderson
    This is a story told through the eyes of a fourteen year old girl, Lara. It is written as a diary with an occasional page from the Mexican Plants for American Gardens by Cecile Hulse Matchat dotted throughout. Lara has been whisked away by her mother, Leonora, along with her band of surrealist artist outcasts(labeled as 'cultural degenerates ')to Costalegre. Here they will be safe from the war. The setting is just as WW2 is beginning. This story ...
  • Caroline
    This was such a nice summer read. The main character was so relatable despite her unusual circumstances, and I really enjoyed matching characters' quirks with stories I have heard about various artists. The setting itself was a powerful character in this book, and I loved that it had some real humor despite the tragic nature of the narrator's personal situation and the frightening global situation.
  • D. Arthur
    Love, love, love this book! I read this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. The entries in this fictional diary all feel marked by a heady, humid, anticipation, much like the novel's anticipation of the storm to come. Our teenage narrator, Lara, feels authentically adolescent, but never dumbed down or hyper-juvenile. She talks with complex grace about a very genuine desire for love, romantic love, familial love, platonic love. This boo...
  • Lydia A.
    What if you decided to choose your own way? What if you followed the tiger into the woods instead of staying behind? This book was a quick read for me, but I never put it down! It’s deeply full of flora and fauna like a pop up book but for adults! The tension of whether or not a daughter will fall into her mother’s whims or if she will pursue her own life and desires builds so that the tiger in the jungle is more ferocious than expected. This...