The Riviera Set 1920-1960: The Golden Years of Glamour and Excess

Written by Mary S. Lovell
Review by Rachel Richardson

The Riviera Set details the lives and loves of the jet-setting scene on the French Riviera from the late 1920s through the 1950s. It focuses on American actress Maxine Elliot, her Côte d’Azur home, Château de l’Horizon, and its frequent guests including Winston Churchill, the Windsors, and a dizzying array of aristocrats, socialites and celebrities, as well as the post-war owner of the chateau, Prince Aly Khan, who there married Rita Hayworth, the most famous of his many wives, girlfriends and lovers. The constantly revolving cast of characters and their complex and ever-changing allegiances are sometimes difficult to keep track of, but the book is well-researched, and Lovell’s skill as a biographer shines through. Château de l’Horizon provides structure to a subject that could otherwise become overwhelming. However, the first part of the book focuses entirely on Elliott’s pre-Riviera life which, though fascinating, does not seem to fit with the rest of the book. Despite the subtitle, also missing are details of Riviera life in the 1920s, before Elliott’s arrival, which will disappoint some readers.