Don't let a fondness for Proustian luxe sucker you into purchasing this book containing mediocre photography and a text of perfumed flatulence. The ostensible purpose of the book is to reveal French urban, aristocratic taste as of the late twentieth century, or more accurately the taste of their designers (the usual cast of Henri, Renzo, etc.)and other arbiters of taste (Hubert, Alexis, Carlos, etc.). Certainly, there are more than enough interiors of the mummefied magnificence that comes from cocooning staggering numbers of objects in layer after layer of fabric (WARNING: Do not try at home. If you do not possess first-rate things and have access to the production from the best mills in Italy and France, you will achieve only The Old Junkshop look), but the pictures are uniformly fuzzy, muddy and printed on poor quality paper. Most maddening of all, the photography neglects genuine masterpieces (you cannot catch more than a glimpse, for example, of the incomparable Ingres portrait of Betty Rothschild) while devoting page after page to boring tabletop vignettes usually consisting of a few knicknacks and photographs of long-dead nobodies as children. In fact, the real purpose of the book is apparently to provide the author with a vehicle to boast about her ancestors (many of those same long-dead nobodies) and the elegant life they led. There is also a stench of moral decay most evident in the fawning description of Lady Mosley with an outrageous defense of British fascism before World War II. Mostly, however, the premise of the book seems to be that you are what you own, or more accurately what you inherit -- a concept so inherently ridiculous that even the owners of the homes depicted in the book had the good sense for the most part to insist on anonymity. If you truly want to revel in the atmosphere of things past, make yourself a cup of tea, find a hard biscuit and settle back in your recliner with the first volume of you know what.