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Ted Jones
The French Riviera - A Literary Guide for Travellers
Reviewed by: Nazalee Raja © 2005

I.B. Tauris & Co.
Country Format Edition: UK, Hardback
ISBN: 1 86064 967 X
Pages: 244; Price: £17.95
Publication date: 2004
Date Reviewed: March 2005

Index: Non-Fiction  General Fiction

In 'The French Riviera - A Literary Guide for Travellers', Ted Jones does two things simultaneously. Firstly, he takes us on a journey along the French Riviera, complete with sunny sidewalk cafes and celebrity yachts. Secondly, he brings to life the many writers who have either chosen to live and work in the French Riviera, or have merely sojourned in this area of France at some point of their lives. Jones performs both these wonders with warmth and humour. He maintains the reader's interest while conveying a cornucopia of meticulously researched information on the area and the numerous writers mentioned. From this starting point, I would recommend this book to anyone who has either an interest in this part of the French coast, or has an interest in writers and their lives.

Jones tells us that not only has the sunny Riviera, or Cote d'Azur in French, provided the inspiration and setting for some of the greatest literature of the nineteenth and twentieth century, but has actually been a magnet for writers for some 700 years. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri ('The Divine Comedy', 1265-1321) passed through the region after being exiled from Florence, as did John Milton en route to Genoa. Twentieth century writers suffering from tuberculosis flocked to the area their health.

In this travelogue with a literary slant, Jones provides the reader with an organised literary tour of the area, stopping in Hyeres in the West, Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Monaco, Menton and along the 120-mile coastline to the Italian border. For the bibliophiles among us, he has included biographies of over 150 writers and their works to help you keep track of the who is referred to and where they lived or stayed while on the Cote d'Azur. This encyclopaedic work covers writers from Graham Greene and W. Somerset Maugham who spent their lives there, through to those writers who feature the region in their writing, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Guy de Maupassant, to those who simply lingered there, like Louisa May Alcott, Hans Christian Andersen, J.G. Ballard, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, and W.B. Yeats, to name but a few.

It seems that almost all the biggest names of literature of at least the twentieth century spent some time in this idyllic, romantic corner of the world. Jones has capitalised on this to bring us wonderful segments of quite gossipy information. We learn, or example, that H.G. Wells sought sunshine, a retreat and a mistress in the Riviera; while Joseph Conrad visited Edith Wharton, first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her novel 'The Age of Innocence'. Jules Verne wrote 'Around the World in 80 Days' on his yacht in Antibes, and Guy de Maupassant cut his throat in Cannes.

All in all, whether searching for an informative and interesting guide to the Cote d'Azur or a literary reference containing fascinating tidbits about favourite authors, the reader would be well advised to turn to this anecdote-filled volume.

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