Novel set in pre-war London and Guernsey
Romance fiction set in Cannes, Cote d’Azur (“Nobody in Cannes worries about time”)
15th April 2015
French Coast by Anita Hughes, romance fiction set in Cannes. Plus a terrific Author Q and A.
Zac Posen – Manolos – Lilly Pulitzer – Courrèges – Lanvin – Betsey Johnson – Acqua di Parma – Dior – Oscar de la Renta Stuart Weitzman – Coach – Ferragamo – Yves St Laurent – Stella McCartney – Manolos – Pucci – Gucci – Bottega Veneta
Serena is the features editor for Vogue in San Francisco and lives the cushioned lifestyle of the wealthy. Her Father is a retired Senator and she is dating Chase, who is also on the cusp of moving into politics. She is offered the chance to go to Cannes to interview Yvette Renault, the larger then life editor of French Vogue, who wants to, finally, tell her story and detail her affair with Bertrand Roland, the famous writer. This is a real coup for Serena and just before she jets off, Chase places a huge engagement ring on her finger. So far, so good!
She arrives in the middle of the Cannes Film Festival and as soon as she sets foot on French soil, her world begins to be turned upside down. The first catastrophe is that the Carlton-InterContinental has no record of her room reservation. There isn’t a room to be had because of the Film Festival. But she soon finds herself pouring her heart out to Zoe, a young and slightly needy woman with a penchant for pistachios, who invites her to take the spare room in her Cary Grant Suite. Her luck is in, though it is soon to be splintered once again by revelations of a different kind. Parents need careful managing – for both Zoe and Serena – and Serena soon acquires a stalker (though a handsome one at that) in the form of Nick, who pops up at every turn.
Life in Cannes and along the Cote d’Azur amongst the beau monde is a world away from everyday life. The Carlton-Intercontinental provides a regular buffet service for its guests in the suites atop the hotel, offering perhaps a vanilla, cinnamon or almond tea for a quick refresher. It is the lap of luxury, decked out in silk and satin, and the guests can take in the view of the glittering sea, the fishing boats and yachts from the balcony, a glass of quality wine (or a cucumber martini) in hand.
The girls regularly update their wardrobe and there are any number of couture names to drool over, Lancôme lip gloss to apply, stylish hair creations to create and gold shoes to slide onto well manicured feet. Style is absolute.
Stars promenade along the Boulevard de La Croisette, and for the reader, the gloss and glitz and blazing sun catching the ripples on the Mediterranean are palpable. This book is an immersion in the colour of Cannes, you almost feel as though you have been mingling with jetset, it is a book with sunhat and sunglasses written all over it (though the tan is extra). Explore Marché Forville, and pour over the baskets of raspberries, the racks of olive oil from Provence, and the salts from the Camargue; dine a Z Plage, pop over to Juan les Pins, Mougins, Antibes and Monte Carlo, and generally enjoy being a flâneuse with Serena and Zoe in the South of France, immerse yourself in a satisfying story of romance and glamour and sensory overload.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Happily Anita agreed to answer a few of our questions, so here goes:
TF: You have clearly had the opportunity to experience a little of the high life in Cannes – you write about it so evocatively. Can you tell us a little more about that?
AH: My parents are European and I grew up in Sydney, Australia. When I was young, my mother wanted to go back to Europe so we did a four month tour and stayed at the loveliest hotels in all her favorite places. She always used to talk about the Carlton-Intercontinental in Cannes and I fell in love with it even more when I watched one of my all time favorite movies – HOW TO CATCH A THIEF with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – which was set at the Carlton-Intercontinental.
TF: How do you go about researching setting for your books?
AH: I start with the memories of when I traveled and then enhance my knowledge with detailed searches on the Internet. I really try to soak myself in the ambiance of a place – the hotels, the museums and local landmarks, the food. I often get up from my computer and feel like I spent the day in Cannes or Lake Como or Rome!
TF: Fashion features very strongly in French Coast. As you are based in the US, do you have any observations on the differences between European and US fashions? Do you have a favourite designer yourself?
AH: Many years ago my favorite designer was Adrienne Vittadini because she did knits in the most exciting colors and patterns. I love Courreges because it is so classic and the colors are vibrant. I’m also a big believer in Lacoste because you can wear it anywhere. I live at the beach so I don’t see a lot of winter fashions but I do see styles in bright colors and a lot of very high heels! I think European fashions are a little more daring and whimsical but there are a lot of US designers I love – Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren to start.
TF: You clearly love the Côte d’Azur. Do you have any favourite places to visit and any top tips for eating and shopping?
AH: All the shopping on the Boulevard de la Croissette in Cannes is wonderful! You really need to go no further to find every boutique you could imagine. I also love Monte Carlo, I’ve been fascinated with Monaco ever since I was a child. The Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo looks like a wonderful birthday cake!
TF: Locale is strong in your books. You have so far set in your books in Italy, France and California. What are you working on at the moment and where will your next books be set?
AH: My next book, ROME IN LOVE, comes out August 4th and it is set in Rome. It is about a young actress who wins the Audrey Hepburn role in a remake of ROMAN HOLIDAY. I loved writing about Rome! Especially the shops on the Via Condotti and the Hassler Hotel and all the monuments and museums.
TF: When you travel, what kind of books do you like to read? And what are you reading at the moment?
AH: My very favorite author is a British author I am sure you are very familiar with. I have been a huge fan of Penny Vincenzi for years and have read all her books. I love to take them with me when I travel (even though they are usually 700 pages long and heavy) because I get lost in her stories (so perfect for long flights). I just finished SECRETS OF MIDWIVES by Sally Hepworth which was fabulous!