Whenever one of Nadine de Rothschild’s girlfriends ties the knot, she gives them one of the Three Wise Monkey bronze statues. “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” is very much her attitude to marriage. In fact, France’s social etiquette queen – or should I say La Baronne since that’s her official title – strongly believes that a wife should never complain, never explain and always learn to tolerate her man’s idiosyncrasies.
True, the flame-haired former actress is a feminist’s nightmare. But the jolly and fresh-faced 80-year-old is fun and having a good time of it all. What’s her secret? Well, all is revealed in the new edition of her best-selling classic, Le Bonheur de Séduire, l’art de Réussir (The Happiness of Seducing, The Art of Succeeding). And I have to say that it’s one of those books that is both practical – finally, I know how to flirt with my solicitor – and surprisingly hard to put down.
"True, the flame-haired former actress is a feminist’s nightmare. But the jolly and fresh-faced 80-year-old is fun and having a good time of it all."
I foolishly presumed that her advice would be as delightfully old-fashioned as her photographs. I refer to Nadine wearing a yellow silk house gown that matches the wallpaper and her posing in front of the sprawling aquamarine swimming pool. However, being a woman of the world – she worked in a factory before becoming an artist’s model and then a saucepot starlet – she’s pretty wise and intelligently straightforward. “Learn to negotiate,” she advises regarding adolescents. “Deny everything,” she says, should your husband discover your secret affair. And if the airline loses your luggage, “lose the smile but never the calm.” NdR suggests dignity at all times.
Le Bonheur de Séduire, l’art de Réussir is out now, published by Robert Laffont.
Text by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradise, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet.