‘The Riviera Set’ by Mary S. Lovell


 Genre: Non-fiction

This book was reviewed on the ABC radio program ‘Overnights with Rod Quinn’ as part of my Christmas special. The podcast of the review is available under the ‘Podcasts’ tab if you want to hear the full review (:

I have a devastating habit of not finishing non-fiction books and yes…this has been one of them. However! The point of difference with this book is that I’ve kept thinking about it and I’ve been meaning to go back to it. I think that counts for something when reviewing a book and shows that this is an interesting subject!

With the announcement of upcoming movies that portray the famous stories and lives of the Jazz Age (Scarlett Johansson to star in Scott. F. Fitzgerald’s ‘Beautiful and the Damned’ and Jenifer Lawerance to star in the biopic of Zelda Fitzgerald) I’ve particularly begun to notice many books being published depicting this era.

This book gives insight into the high society of the 20th century. It tells the story of an infamous hotel, the exquisite Chateau de l’Horizon in Cannes that was opened from 1930 to 1960.

The woman to open the hotel was Maxine Elliott, an American actress who made her way into the British aristocracy. The second half of the book details the hotel’s history when it was taken over by  Prince Aly Khan, an well-known ‘playboy’ prince of the Middle East, who continued to attract famous hotel guests such as Rita Hayworth.

This hotel was the epitome of stylish art deco and was the place to see and be seen and boasts famous guests such as the Coco Chanel, Windsors, Winston Churchill and Noel Coward.

The author, Mary S. Lovell is a expert in this time period and previously wrote the success book The Mitford Girls

Other books to look out for if you’re interested in the roaring twenties are (I haven’t personally read these myself yet but The Riviera Set has sparked my interest in this time period):
*The Queen Bees by Sian Evans that looks at the lives of sex women who made their careers out of being society hostesses
*Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler a fictionalized take on the romance of the Fitzgeralds

I say this is a great book for fans of the movie, “Midnight In Paris” directed by Woody Allen and “A Good Women” starring Scarlett Johansson and Helen Hunt.

I’d love to hear others opinions of this one or other recommendations!


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