But the book is weirdly out of focus from the beginning. There is a short introduction, followed by a short prologue, which more or less repeats what the introduction says. The text proper opens with an account of Chanel’s affair with Bendor Westminster — which took place in the 1920s and ended in 1930, the year this book supposedly begins. Chanel is described as ‘beautiful, elegant, witty and fiercely independent’. She wasn’t beautiful, but she was smart. And Bendor is ‘tall, blond and good-looking’. He wasn’t blond but, yes, he was good-looking. As for the Riviera, it is repeatedly characterised with similar lists of film-treatment platitudes: ‘That era of bias-cut satin evening dresses, Hollywood films, beach pyjamas, exotic cocktails, harbours crammed with yachts and super-stylish motor cars. ’
Anne de Courcy claims that her book Chanel’s Riviera is neither a biography of Coco Chanel nor a history of the Riviera, but it certainly reads like a biography of this glamorous part of the world that continues to capture the imagination... De Courcy’s sparkling, anecdote-rich narrative takes a darker turn with the onset of war.