How the Gilded Set Survived Nazi Occupation and Other Moral Tales

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Souce: The American Conservative

The French Rivera was a haven for privileged hedonism, that is, before the Vichy arrived. Not everyone reacted nobly.

Golfer Archie Compston plays the Duke of Windsor at Cap d’Antibes in France in January 1939. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944, by Anne de Courcy, St. Martin’s Press, February 2020, 298 pages

Despite its title, Anne de Courcy’s characteristically gossipy new book purports to be neither a biography of the iconic fashion figure Coco Chanel nor a snapshot history of the French Riviera. 

Instead it seeks to portray an era torn between the interwar era’s ostentatious high life and the horrific moral deprivations and compromises inflicted by the cruelty of World War II. Inevitably, however, de Courcy cannot tell the story without relating a lot about both of the title’s subjects. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Having written a number of books about largely forgotten aristocratic British women and American heiresses who sought husbands among those ladies’ titled male relatives, her style and ability to explore people and their motivations is lively enough to hold the reader’s attention. That’s the case even if it

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