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A Financial Times
'Books to Read' in 2023

A Sunday Times
'Book of the Week'

‘as fascinating in its historical sweep as its devotion to gossip and misbehaviour. … the book becomes a delirious chronicle of excess … Once Upon a Time World is a phenomenal work of research across hundreds of histories, biographies, memoirs and letters. It shifts with masterly control across a dozen arenas from high art to low scandal, taking in fashion, sport, ballet and motor racing. It’s utterly absorbing, indelicate to a shocking degree and I devoured every page of it.’

John Walsh - The Sunday Times

‘... corrals all the myths and legends into a bigger-picture mosaic … Miles writes in a rattling from-the-hip fashion, which only adds to the book’s party atmosphere ….  The French Riviera emerges from this well-researched, enthusiastically shaped book as a constant temptation.’
Christian House - Financial Times

‘entertaining and comprehensive … seemingly all the people who made history passed through at some stage. Distant conflicts, revolutions and financial
crises, as much as the oscillations of Paris fashion, all echoed on the Côte-D’Azur. Miles chronicles all this with a keen eye for piquant details’
The Economist

‘Jonathan Miles captures the glitzy hedonism of this decadent playground in the sun for the rich (and fake rich) ...  A lyrical history of the region that so beguiled the world, Jonathan Miles’s compelling book features tale after tale which show us the madness that lies at the heart of the Riviera.’ 
Barry Egan - Irish Independent

'In this fabulous romp of a book, Jonathan Miles tells the story of how an 80-mile stretch of rocky shoreline ... became history's first international playground for the rich and famous.'
Kathryn Hughes - Mail on Sunday
✭✭✭✭✭ review

'crammed with hundreds of juicy anecdotes' 
The Daily Mail

‘Miles’s whirlwind of characters coalesces into a narrative of booms and busts. As Miles illustrates, the Côte-d’Azur has long been fertile ground for Western intellectual and artistic life.’
 Foreign Policy

a ‘vibrant and picaresque history of the Riviera’ ... a  ‘great cavalcade of the wealthy, shiny and sometimes disreputable’
 The New Statesman

‘Charting the history of the Riviera, with all its sheen and shadow,’ Miles ‘has mined the memoirs and novels and films that have emerged from the Côte d’Azur and returned with delightful nuggets of gossip. A gripping and at times dizzying read, it is like being driven in a Lotus Esprit at 90mph around the region’s hairpin bends …  If you are heading to the south of France this summer, consider your poolside reading material sorted.’
Gentleman’s Journal

‘extensively researched …  Miles goes on an entertaining roler-coaster ride the region’s glamorously decadent and licentious history’.
 The Sunday Telegraph

‘this is the book that explains how it all began, what happened next, the people and the parties, and how an azure coastal paradise ended up becoming a grey-white concrete jungle. It’s a fascinating story, enchantingly told by Miles’ – Collagerie

'Entertaining and wide-ranging... Effortlessly readable, Jonathan Miles's portrait of the sparkling but shady Côte d'Azur is complemented by a clutch of images gorgeous enough to grace a small guest room on any Riviera oligarch's super yacht.   Literary Review

The unabdridged audiobook

is narrated by the author


is now out in paperback 

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