Love a bit of real-life sex, disappointment and scandal from some of the 20th century's biggest icons (Chanel and her German lover, the artist Salvador Dalí, the author Edith Wharton...) all set against an impossibly luxurious and elegant French backdrop? Then Anne De Courcy's biography of a very select time and place is for you. Providing insight into the occupation of France and its terrifying impact on rich and poor alike, you'll come away from reading it both better informed and utterly transported
Sparkling, anecdote-rich narrative
In Chanel's Riviera, Anne de Courcy has written a well-researched and compelling story. She maintains a remarkable balance between, on the one hand, Chanel and her world of the rich and famous and, on the other, the lives of ordinary people desperately struggling to survive in a country on the brink of annihilation. Drawing on an immense volume of material, she has succeeded not only in constructing an intriguing portrait of Chanel herself but also in expertly conjuring the two very different worlds that then existed side by side
Entertaining ... Anne de Courcy makes a highly amusing guide to the shenanigans, foibles and affairs of the rich and famous at a time when it seemed anyone who was anyone spent weeks at a time on the Riviera ... De Courcy has dug deep into a rich seam of stories about the coastal region of France
Anne de Courcy's Chanel's Riviera gives us delicious gossip. France's leading designer was the epitome of chic. When she acquired a magnificent villa on the Cote d'Azur, the rich and famous - among them Jean Cocteau, H. G. Wells, Salvador Dali (and, after the abdication, the Windsors) - followed. They created a gilded and hedonistic world, which continued until the fall of France in 1940.
Fascinating ... By turns sunny and shady, this beautifully written book illuminates a harrowing and occasionally surreal episode in 20th-century French history
Anne de Courcy is one of my very favourite non-fiction writers (I wholeheartedly recommend that you investigate her backlist) and so I'm delighted that she's turned her attentions to Coco Chanel and what she got up to on the French Riviera before and during the second world war. With a cast list that includes the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Winston Churchill, socialite and heiress Daisy Fellows and surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, Chanel's Riviera is a riveting read about the best and very worst of times and at the heart of the story is the morally ambiguous (some may say morally bankrupt) Chanel herself.
De Courcy is very powerful on the fall of France - the sorrow and the pity ... De Courcy, in this gripping, rousing study, sees Chanel as a Marie Antoinette figure, simultaneously shrewd and other-worldly, protected by an armour of absolute self-interest.