Novel set in the Côte d’Azur (“..it’s not quite Nice … but it’s very near..”)
- Book: Not Quite Nice
- Location: Nice
- Author: Celia Imrie
Bellevue Sur Mer where the Brits of BSM (not to confused with BDSM, of course, though shenanigans amongst this, the older incomers are rife!) have come to settle like a flock of starlings on the Côte d’Azur. Take Theresa, who in Blighty is nothing more than a useful babysitter for her daughter and grandchildren, and when she is made redundant, well, she needs to make some choices about her future. Echoes here of Imrie’s character in the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
She soon sets her sights on Bellevue – a shimmering pearl on the Côte d’Azur – and finds a darling little place that suits her down to the ground. Gradually she is chumming up with other Brits Abroad and her social life begins to flourish. She finds the confidence – so lacking at home – to start a cookery club, and the flamboyant and colourful residents congregate at her house. The author slots in some choice recipes for the reader to feast upon, including traditionals such as Pissaladière and Merda de Can (you might guess how that could be translated, and you would be right – nothing to do with dog poo apart from the colour match – it is a kind of gnocchi, comprising potatoes and Swiss Chard ).
But as in real life, things turn out quite differently for many of the characters and when a series of increasingly violent burglaries hit the community, some pull together, whilst others have their own agenda. They are not a sedentary bunch of expats but they embrace friendship, and have a high degree of pluck to see them through the vagaries of life in the South of France.
It is a light read that at times struggles to find its rhythm but it is written with sincerity, humour and warmth and some of the observations of both the locale, the customs and the people are beautiful brought to life. The backdrop of the Côte d’Azur adds colour and heat, from Marseille to Menton, as the “yellows of February, the daffodils, mimosa and lemons make way for the purples, reds and shocking pinks of Spring”. Enjoy.
This review first appeared on our blog