Costalegre

Costalegre Review

One of Literary Hub's Most Anticipated Books of 2019.
A Best Book of Summer at  amNY,  Moda Operandi,  Publishers WeeklySouthern 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”—artists, writers, and thinkers whose work is deemed antithetical to the new regime.  To prevent the destruction of her favorite art (and artists), the impetuous American heiress and modern art collector, Leonora Calaway, begins chartering boats and planes for an elite group of surrealists to Costalegre, a mysterious resort in the Mexican jungle, where she has a home. 


The story of what happens to these artists when they reach their destination is told from the point of view of Lara, Leonora’s neglected 15-year-old daughter, who has been pulled out of school to follow her mother to Mexico. Forced from a young age to cohabit with her mother’s eccentric whims, tortured lovers, and entourage of gold-diggers, Lara suffers from emotional, educational, and geographical instability that a Mexican sojourn with surrealists isn’t going to help. But when she meets the outcast Dadaist sculptor Jack Klinger, a much older man who has already been living in Costalegre for some time, Lara thinks she might have found the love and understanding she so badly craves. 


Sinuous and striking, heartbreaking and strange, Costalegre is heavily inspired by the real-life relationship between the heiress Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen. Acclaimed author Courtney Maum triumphs with this wildly imaginative and curiously touching story of a privileged teenager who has everything a girl could wish for—except for a mother who loves her back. 

Title:Costalegre

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    Costalegre Reviews

  • Courtney Maum

    BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ....

  • 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...

  • 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 deg...

  • 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 o...

  • 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...

  • 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 hist...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 pain...

  • 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. Artis...

  • 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 moth...