Prepare to swept into the age of glamour and excess with this riveting read about the Riviera and all those who paid it a visit between 1920-1960.
Acclaimed for her biographies of Beryl Markham, Amelia Earhart, Jane Digby and Sir Richard Burton to name a few, Mary S. Lovell effectively weaves the stories of several leading and glamorous figures who regularly visited the Riviera in this engaging and entertaining read.
While the first part of the book concentrates on the life of American actress Maxine Elliott (who deserves a biography and television series of her own so extraordinary was her her life) and her home on the Riviera that she helped to build the Chateau de l’Horizon, much of the story is actually absorbed by the lives of all those who visited both the house – with Winston Churchill prominently featuring.
It is bewildering to think that Lovell has managed to condense the thrilling and flamboyant lives of so many personalities in one book and this is certainly an achievement in itself, but even more so when she never seems to lose the thread of the book – never rambling unnecessarily.
Throughout every story and every personality that the author mentions in this lively biography, everything is so vivid providing the reader with a deep insight into both history and the lives of characters such as Prince Aly Khan and his fated marriage to Hollywood star Rita Hayworth, Winston Churchill’s regular visits to the Chateau de l’Horizon to recover his health and paint and Maxine Elliott’s glamorous parties.
There is certainly plenty of drama, heartache and drama weaved in and out of every story that is really quite extraordinary and could make for interesting viewing in either the cinema or television! In this biography it is clear how writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was inspired for many of his stories given the (sometimes) scandalous behaviour of the high society figures around at that time – with plenty of stories of infidelities, the wild parties and general gossip that provided newspapers at the time plenty to print.
The whole book has been wonderfully structured to move from one character to the next with so much style that it does feel as though you are wondering around a party in which all of the characters are present, while adding a touch of reality with reference to world events – in particular the effect of World War II in the Riviera.
Oozing with style and sophistication, this book was delightful and fascinating to read from beginning to end. Worth a read for anyone with an interest of the glamour of the 1920’s and 30’s.
The Riviera Set is available to buy through Amazon now.