Dress Down Sunday: Go South, Young Woman


the book: Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys

published 2018

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She heads out to the swimming pool. It is one of those fresh, clear Riviera days when the world seems to be retouched in Technicolour, the sky the rich blue of cornflower petals, the green of the laurel bush leaves as vibrant as the jewel in the ring Bernard gave her, which she now wears on her finger as a constant reminder of the answers she still seeks.

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Sitting down on a wooden steamer, she breathes it all in as if she might somehow absorb it, down through her airways and into her lungs, until it is a part of who and what she is.

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She looks at the great expanse of sea, studded with the nodding black dots of the yachts and the fishing boats; at the low smudge of Cap Ferrat across the water to her left, and beyond it the mauve tips of the Maritime Alps…

By the time she dives into the pool, every nerve bursting into life at that moment of impact when her body hits the cool water, she is feeling greatly cheered and full of equanimity.

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commentary: Fatal Inheritance has the best wish-fulfilment/Cinderella opening setup that you could ever wish for.

Eve Forrester is stuck in a miserable marriage in London in 1948: there is no excitement or real interest in her life, and post-war rationing is all-pervading. But then, she gets a letter from a solicitor: she has unexpectedly been left a legacy from someone she has never heard of, and she has to go to the South of France to find out more. She sets off (doubtful though her dreary husband is about the whole thing), intending to stay only a couple of days to sort out the matter.


she will stay longer than that….The book is not designed to be about miserable London.

Like a black and white movie turning into colour, she is transported to the south of France – all blues and sunshine and beauty and apparently no restraints on the finer things of life.

Well, how enticing is that?

Of course the legacy is a mystery to everyone else too: Guy Lester died before explaining his will, and his family is furious that Eve has inherited a quarter share in a villa on the Riviera. They are anxious to sell the villa, and they are torn between spending their time fighting with each other and their various friends and hangers-on, and belittling and being mean to Eve.

It’s a full day on the Mediterranean coast.

Then there are dramatic glamorous parties in the evening where Fatal Inheritance 4all these activities can continue, and there is a beautiful filmstar, with an upcoming marriage, a famous American writer, people taking drugs and drinking too much, and various hints of the wartime past.

Eve is an excellent heroine, naïve and self-conscious, but also determined and firm: she insists on coming to stay in the disputed villa, and she tries her best to find out what is going on.
She thinks of the master bedroom upstairs. The vast empty bed and the windows thrown open so the only view is the sky and the sea stretching away towards Africa. Then she thinks of her room at home, of Clifford. What if this is her one chance to be somewhere as beautiful as this, her one chance to find out why she is here?
This is the perfect holiday read.

And of course there are excellent clothes in the book – though I did wonder how Eve managed on the few items she brought with her? This is mentioned once, then ignored…

In the end I decided to go for the beachwear, having found all these wonderful pictures from 1948, along with the admirable book cover. Woman in the pool, palm tree pic, white outfit, shorts on the beach – all from Kristine’s photostream.


  1. I keep hearing such great things about this one, Moira.. And you've found the perfect way to describe that news about the inheritance, and the trip to the Riviera. It is a Cinderella sort of story, isn't it? I'm honestly not the biggest fan of present tense. Still, leaving that aside, I do like the premise, and I can see how a reader would be drawn in.

    1. Yes Margot, and there is some crime and mystery from the past - always something I enjoy. I know what you mean about present tense, but I can put up with it in some books.

  2. It sounds like a twist on "Enchanted April" with Provence substituting for Italy.

    1. Yes interesting - more racy maybe, a bit more of Eurotrash? I liked other books by Elizabeth Von Arnim very much, but actually didn't get on with that one, and nor did I like the film.

      There, I have outed myself.

  3. Gosh. I checked my library, and they have A Dangerous Crossing, by Rachel Rhys. It sounds great, and so does the back story. http://tammycohen.co.uk/latest-news/i-have-a-split-personality-enter-rachel-rhys/

    1. I don't know her other career as a writer either, so that was interesting, thanks! Will be interested to hear if A Dangerous Crossing is good...

  4. This sounds uncannily like DEATH WISHES by Philip Loraine which I reviewed on my blog a few weeks ago. South of France, long lost relative dying and leaving a mysterious will, millions being argued over by the other legatees... I guess there are dozens of books with this basic plot. Your book sounds more light hearted than what I read, however. My book had a couple of sadistic psychopaths among the male characters.

    1. I read your review and there is certainly a superficial likeness - but as you say, I think my one is a lot 'nicer', with a lot more emphasis on clothes, swimming pools and luxurious meals..
      I do like the sound of the Loraine though.

  5. I don't know... it is hard to tell if I would like it. (Even though I have adjusted to present tense with some authors, it does still give me pause when I see it.) Will have to give it some time and think about. Had not heard of it or the author at all.

    1. Apparently she writes psychological thrillers under a different name - Tammy or Tamar Cohen. I don't know how they differ from these ones. She wrote an earlier one as Rachel Rhys, Dangerous Crossing. I very much enjoyed this one, but I think it is true that someone who reads a lot of crime is not going to be falling over with surprise at the ending (and I gather that is true of the first one). I enjoyed the trappings of the book more than anything, and perhaps it is aimed more at general readers, although the crime plot is very important.


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