Monday, 24 August 2015

Book Review - Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie - Paperback Summer

Amazon UK

Title: Not Quite Nice
Author: Celia Imrie
Format reviewed: Harback
Source: Competition Win
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 26th February 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Theresa is desperate for a change. Forced into early retirement, fed up with babysitting her bossy daughter's obnoxious children, she sells her Highgate house and moves to the picture-perfect town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, just outside Nice. 

With its beautiful villas, its bustling cafes and shimmering cerulean sea, the village sparkles like a diamond on the French Mediterranean coast. Once the hideaway of artists and writers, it is now home to the odd rock icon and Hollywood movie star, and, as Theresa soon discovers, a close-knit set of expats. There's Carol, the infinitely glamorous American and her doting husband David; the erstwhile British TV star Sally; the ferocious Sian and her wayward Australian poet husband; the sharply witty Zoe with her strangely youthful face and penchant for white wine – and the suave Brian who catches Theresa's eye…

As Theresa settles to the gentle rhythm of seaside life she embraces her new-found friendships and freedom. However, life is never quite as simple as it seems and as skeletons start to fall out of several closets, Theresa begins to wonder if life on the French Riviera is quite as nice as it first appeared…

What an enjoyable way to spend a weekend afternoon by escaping to the Cote D'Azur, and to the charming town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, and its delightful array of residents. The initial descriptions of the town, conjured up pictures of a pretty town in Southern France, and I had the feeling the whole time that it felt like a similar sort of place to the one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. And in fact that feeling didn't leave me during the book, and there was a similar storyline to the film, running through part of the book, which made me both smile and gasp.

Theresa is fed up with the way her daughter and grand children treat her, and when she is forced to retire, she decides on a change, and moves to the south of France, and the town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, where there is a thriving ex-pat community. 

Sally was a children's TV presenter in the 70's and has been living the expat life for many years now, but doesn't have as much contact with her children as she would like. Then there are Benjamin and William who are a lovely couple, Ted who makes a fabulously hilarious entrance to the book and his wife Sian. 

And there is Brian, who is there when Theresa is mugged on one of her first days in France, and helps her out and becomes her lodger. Brain also helps out, when Theresa starts running cooking classes for the ex-pats to gain an income. 

Not Quite Nice is a great look at ex-pat life in the south of France, with many moments that will make you laugh and smile. Almost all the characters seem to be hiding something, and as the months roll by, they start unravelling, some with more shocking outcomes than the others. 

Imogen, Therese's daughter, reminded me so much of Shirley Valentine's daughter, with her attitude towards her mother. She seems more worried about how the move will leave her babysitter less, than her mother's happiness. 

There are recipes dotted about between some of the chapters, mainly for Nicoise delicacies, which are always great to see, although as someone who doesn't cook, I can't really test them out or comment further on them. 

I really loved Not Quite Nice, and would love to return to the location again in the future, and really hope the Celia Imrie will be writing some more books. 


  1. Great review, thank you. The cover is just so inviting to enter the world of the British ex pat, with an edge to the storyline. I could hear her voice from Marigold Hotel!

  2. Glad you have reviewed this as I'd seen the cover about but wasn't sure. I read Imrie's autobiography not so long ago and like her writing style. Not Quite Nice looks to be a good escapist read.

    Stephanie Jane


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