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Chanel's Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  64 reviews
In this captivating narrative, Chanels Riviera explores the fascinating world of the Cote dAzur during a period that saw the deepest extremes of luxury and terror in the twentieth century.

The Cote dAzur in 1938 was a world of wealth, luxury, and extravagance, inhabited by a sparkling cast of characters including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph P. Kennedy, Gloria
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars!

In a nutshell, half of this book is about Coco Chanels glitzy, glamorous Riviera at a time when the Kennedys, Picasso, the Duke and Duchess Windsor, and many others were visiting and rubbing elbows with her. Chanel was a beauty and drop dead intelligent, which inspired awe in those who interacted with her. That said, the book shows other, darker sides to Chanel. These other sides were pertinent to what was happening all around her.

Meanwhile, the other half is about the Nazis who were
Katie B
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

The author is pretty upfront with how this book isn't intended to be some definitive biography of Coco Chanel. There are other books out there that cover her entire life whereas this book has some details about how she got her start in the fashion and perfume industries but it primarily focuses on what was going on in her life the decade leading up to World War 2 as well as the war itself. This book also provides a look at France and in particular the French Riviera during that time
Valerity (Val)
Ive always wanted to know more about Coco Chanel the fashion and perfume maven, and this was a good overall look at her life, at least during an important part of it that tells of her and how she did business and lived her life. I enjoyed learning about the various artists and writers that she was friends with and socialized with. It shows the extreme opulence of the party lifestyle along the Riviera of the rich and famous against the backdrop of the rumblings of Germany and Hitler arming up for ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received this as a goodreads giveaway. The book looks at the Riviera prior to WWII and throughout the course of the war. As evidence by the title, the work focuses on Coco Chanel and uses her experiences and life to analyze the Riveria. The book is half on Chanel and half on the Riviera during World War II.

While the focus on Chanel had merit, the author did spend an good deal of the early part of the book discussing Chanel's rise and the societal happenings in the Riviera. The book is best
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
There were some major problems with this book.

Repetitive language and badly organized

This book reads like a first draft. First, some smaller things. The author has the same paragraph--with nearly the same wording--about Chanel's childhood twice to no good effect. She introduces Aldous Huxley several times, with almost the exact same wording. She skips around in the twenties and thirties for no real reason, succeeding in muddying the timeline and repeating biographical and historical details over
Helen Carolan
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Dear god. A serious bit of arse kissing went on here. I don't know how anyone could tell that Ms De Courcy had a serious thing for Channel as nothing in this book gives this away. Not. What makes the whole thing worse is that as the author is kissing Channel's butt, the designer herself is still coming across as an absolute bitch. Even Ms de Courcy's lovefest cannot save her. Dreadful piece of writing..
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As others have said, this is not a book solely about Coco Chanel. The book title is Chanels RIVIERA. This is a book about life on the French Riviera pre WW II and after. The before war story is, as imagined, glamorous and chic. Chanel and her friends had never ending good times. Then, as quickly as this coronavirus has changed lives in the USA and world, WWII and its German occupation changed France in unspeakable ways. I have to tell you, I know a good bit about Britain, and life in the US, and ...more
Kate Grace
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anne de Courcys Chanels Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War is, by turns, elaborately elegant and clear and forthright in its storytelling.

What I loved about Chanels Riviera:
-The authors sense of purpose in writing - in telling new stories of Chanel and the French Riviera, by telling them together
-The contrast between the golden high life and the dark, approaching storm of WWII

What I didnt love so much about Chanels Riviera:
-Storytelling veering off into listing...
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Note: there are two different versions of this book on Goodreads - I am going to put my review on both of them.

When you don't have a car for a month due to a predatory car insurance industry, you can get a LOT of reading done!!

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

In the tradition of
Rina (whatsrinareading)
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
First of all, thank you SO SO much to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I'm so happy I got to read the book. It was truly a gift!
Second...You know when you have a good feeling about a book just by reading the synopsis? I had that this time. I wanted to know more about the Riviera's pre-war years and after WWII, but I never found a book that talked about that without using the setting as a prop to talk about someone else and
Chanel's Riviera is entertaining and easy to read with many captivating facts about Côte d'Azur and Paris during the 1930s through late 1944.

The novel is divided into two parts, the first half describes Coco's life and rise to power, her powerful friends, affairs. In this part of the book, the reader is introduced to multiple high society figures that at one point or another were a big part of Chanel's life. Not knowing much about Coco's life in general, this book has shed lite on her business
Kim Fox
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am so glad I read this book!! I love history and I love books based in and around WW2, but this one added another dimension... Coco Chanel and fashion. At first I kind of thought to myself that this might not work for me, but the way the author wrote this book changed my mind!

I didn't realize how connected she was. Churchill, the abdicated King, Edward and so many more!

The first chapter was a little hard to get through, but that was because of the number of people that were introduced. That
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-reads
This was a Goodreads giveaway winner...
When I first saw this book was going to be published early next year, I couldn't wait to read it. My delight in being a Goodreads giveaway reader was unrivaled.
It started out reminding me of a book I read last year, "The Riviera Set: Glitz, Glamour, and the Hidden World of High Society" by Mary S. Lovell, in that it focused on the frivolous, wealthy, and elegant society (lots of name dropping throughout) hanging out and showing off on the Riviera, just
R Fontaine
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Im torn in too many ways to succinctly,perhaps fairly perhaps not, tying monumental torturous history to societal contretemps. The moods are,at times, a bridge too far.
There is no question that Coco Chanel was a powerful talented personality who managed to live in the Ritz while Parisians were dying,suffering and starving, and Jews were rounded- up and imprisoned in Drancy to later be railroaded to Auschwitz. A part of me asks what would I do and for that I have no honest answer.

When the
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This isnt a book about glamorous Coco Chanel. It doesnt paint a good picture of her. Rather, the book is about how the French Riviera became a haven to Jews during WWII and how the Italians disobeyed French and German orders to send the Jews in the Riviera to concentration camps. Once Italy surrendered and the Germans took over, the 30,000 Jews in the Riviera no longer had any help or protection apart from some brave members of the French resistance. Chanel meanwhile was shacking up with a ...more
Kim Bakos
Mar 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: giveaways
I'll admit I didn't really finish this book - I only made it about halfway through. I kept waiting for it get "good" and capture my interest, but that hadn't happened by page 138, so I gave up. For me, it was like reading Jesus's genealogy in Matthew - so and so went to such and such place with so and so - when you don't know the names or the places, it just like reading the phonebook with names and addresses :(
Ellen Loulou
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Up from 2.5 . The parts I was most interested in were how the Italians were so much less anti-Jewish than the French, and also the wartime experience of the Jews in the south of France. This book reminds me never to forget that anti Jewish actions are both enthusiastically and tacitly supported by many, many people.
Laura Schlosberg
Mar 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I received an advanced reader copy through goodreads. I abandoned the book after 69 pages. The content was too gossipy and disorganized.
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was about two things: the life of Coco Chanel and the life of people, mostly expats and wealthy, in the Riviera in the time between the World Wars and during WWII. On the life of Chanel, it felt rather underdeveloped, as not enough time was dedicated in this book to really understanding Chanel or explaining her life. She would appear or be thrown in at random points, so you never really knew what was happening to her or why she was included in this book. On the situation in the French ...more
Debra Branigan
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I began reading the book with the idea it was mainly about Coco Chanel and the Riviera set. However, I found that section gossipy and so full of name-dropping as it detailed the hedonistic lifestyle of the wealthy and famous that I was ready to abandon the book. Then World War II began.

The author illustrates in tragic and horrifying detail what happened to the foreigners, refugees, Jews, and French citizens along the Riviera as well as other parts of France as the German Occupation unfolds. This
Lisa Rogers
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
The books title, Chanels Riviera, led me to believe that the subject of the book would be Coco Chanel. It started out so. But early on, the author ran out of concrete data on Chanel and her crowd. Its apparent because multiple unknown people are introduced who have nothing to do with Chanel, but whose diaries help the author tell the story of the German invasion and occupation of France as well as the Axis presence on the French Riviera in WWII. Toward the end of the book, only smatterings of ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a who's who of the glamour world of the French Riviera during the 1930's and 1940's. I read a lot of books set in this era but found this one to be flat and not easy to follow. It is not an easy book to read as a chronological book, it jumps around time and characters and places.
The Cote dAzur in 1938 was a world of wealth, luxury, and extravagance, inhabited by a sparkling cast of characters including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph P. Kennedy, Gloria Swanson, Colette, the
Jill Elizabeth
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting exploration of the years leading up to the Second World War and then the war itself. It focused on the Riviera and the very wealthy who lived and holiday-ed there, although there is also a lot of description of Paris and Vichy France, particularly during the War. I found the mixture to be very interesting, if at times a bit unfocused.

The book was unusual in that a lot of it was standard historical nonfiction covering a wide variety of people's stories, from the
Karen M
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is not really about Coco Chanel. She flits in and out of the pages but its not so much about her as it is about the world in which she dwelt, The Riviera leading up to World War II.

Decadence was everywhere and so were Americans, British, French, Germans and others who were so rich that nothing was out of their reach. Artists, writers, politicians, royalty and just plain filthy rich people made up the society that traveled between Paris and The Riviera with their families, entourages
Jacinda Literature Babe
Anne de Courcy brings a vivid portrait of the great designer Chanel, during the years that she wined and dined spending her summers in the French Riviera.

This is not a biography of Chanel and her design empire. If you are looking for that, you need to go elsewhere. Instead we find ourselves living in the highlights and lowlights of her decadent lifestyle from the 30's to just after 1944...summertime living in her private Villa; La Pausa.

There is a huge amount of famous name dropping in this
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to dig into this book since I have a trip planned to the French Riviera this summer. (Well see about that.) Unfortunately, I was disappointed. This book digs into the idyllic Cote dAzur and its glamorous residents. Chanel owned her only real home there, called La Pausa. She, and the other artists and literati, spent a lot of time carousing and entertaining one another. I enjoyed learning about Chanels love life and her incredible work ethic. The book is full of notable people, ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
De Courcys detailed research into the Life, Love and the Struggle for Survival on the Cote dAzur, 1930-1944 was more of a gossipy social history than an intense political history of that period. The latter would have been my preference. In fact, for the first half of her book, the author immersed the reader into the extravagant, entitled, gilded lives of the rich and famous French and British residents of the Riviera. The coming war was seen as more of an inconvenience to those who knew no ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Per the author, Anne de Courcy, this book isn't intended to be a definitive biography of Coco Chanel. It is more of a biography of a placethe French Riviera before and during the Second World War. Because the Riviera was such a hot spot, it attracted the rich and famous and infamous, including Chanel and her many lovers. De Courcy covers a broad range of characters such as Winston Churchill, Aldous Huxley, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and a number of Americans, such as the Singer Sewing ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My kind of book the era 1930`s and 40`s on the french Riviera before the war full of parties and summer homes, endless parties and love affairs ,many foreigners living on the Riviera then artists actors and musicians ,writers and then there was CoCo Chanel.She was an orphan and came from nothing and made her fame as a dress designer in Paris then had a Villa built for her in Menton ,all white marble and gardens and guest rooms,a place called La Pausa. There she invited her many friends and ...more
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The period of history between the two World Wars is one of my favorites and when a book not only covers that time but includes Coco Chanel, well it's one I want to read. She was a remarkable woman. As the Mother Superior said of her - "that unfortunate waif, an illegitimate child born in the poorhouse". Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel was a force to be reckoned with in a setting that became larger than life with the very, very rich and the very, very famous joining her on the stage. It was a sparkling ...more
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Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer, journalist and book reviewer. In the 1970s she was Womans Editor on the London Evening News until its demise in 1980, when she joined the Evening Standard as a columnist and feature-writer. In 1982 she joined the Daily Mail as a feature writer, with a special interest in historical subjects, leaving in 2003 to concentrate on books, on which she has talked ...more

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