Announcing A Big Winner!

Mistress of the Ritz

I am happy to announce that Jane Serio is the winner of my copy of MISTRESS OF THE RITZ by Melanie Benjamin. Congratulations Jane. I know you are going to love this one as much as I do!

I do want to send a heartfelt thanks out to all of you who took the time to enter this contest. It was a very successful one and the generous publishing people at Delacorte Press which is a division of Penguin Random House are going to be so happy.  I can imagine more giveaways soon.

I want to remind everyone that the reason you are seeing so many of our great authors writing about World War Two currently is because we are celebrating 75 years since the War. That’s a big deal. Even though sometimes we feel inundated with books about this era, I have found there is usually room for more.  So, try to keep an open mind when you see yet another WWII novel coming at you. I can tell you right now that they are coming. And they are good!


Giveaway: Mistress Of The Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Mistress of the Ritz

One of America’s best-loved historical fiction novelists Melanie Benjamin,  is back with a larger-than-life story of what happened behind the scenes at the Paris Ritz Hotel while it was  occupied by the Germans during World War II.

I love this cover. I love that they have  included the photo of the Eiffel Tower but shaded over it. Brings the mystery of this novel into focus.

Who are Claude and Blanche Auzello?  Claude is a Frenchman who was the director of the Hotel Ritz and Blanche is his American wife.  Oh the secrets that they hold. Some from each other, and one they keep together…

Blanche Auzello

Benjamin admits that there is not much out there about the Auzello’s.  So even though this novel uses true historical events to set the tone, this story is inspired,  but not based on the truth.  That makes sense. And, Benjamin actually stayed at the Ritz for three unbelievable days and  was able to go behind the face of the hotel and see things for herself. How cool is that!

Those of us who love reading World War II already know about the Hotel Ritz in Paris. We know the Germans basically took over the hotel and set up housekeeping within the sumptuous suites and fully stocked bars, and of course the amazing restaurants. This iconic hotel became the playground for the Third Reich.  Even though we’re aware of this, what do we know about what was actually going on behind the scenes? Not much. Until now.

Before the Germans arrived to take over the Hotel Ritz was a wonderland of celebrities the likes we had not seen before. Hemingway could be seen drinking and telling tales at the bar, Coco Chanel swooped in dressed to the nines, F. Scott Fitzgerald and his colorful wife Zelda were tossing back cocktails, Picasso was hanging out, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor held court there from time to time. The Ritz was the place for the beautiful people of the time to see and be seen. But it all changed when Hermann Goering and the Nazis stomped into Paris and staked their claim on the Hotel Ritz, because  let’s face it, it was the best place in town. And everything changed on a dime.

Coco Chanel

The Auzello’s had become a troubled couple. Their marriage was coming unglued.  Blanche was so totally opposite of her staid husband. She, the over-the-top flamboyant one, he, the serious unflappable one.  But her shenanigans began to get out of hand, threatening to give away their secrets.  Plus, she had befriended Lily who had gone over to the “dark” side and was working with the resistance.

One recent book: nonfiction, THE HOTEL ON PLACE VENDÔME by Tilar J. Mazzeo, was a big source of research for Benjamin. I have read it and can confirm it to be a stellar read on its own. For those of you wishing more, that would be the book to get.

THE MISTRESS OF THE RITZ will definitely keep you turning the pages.  It’s suspenseful and filled with characters that have personality plus.  I loved the real-life characters and the imagined. I was totally transformed and taken to Paris for days as I relished reading this new novel.

Melanie Benjamin is the New York Times bestselling author of THE SWANS OF FIFTH AVENUE and THE AVIATOR’S WIFE.


Melanie Benjamin

The pub date is Tuesday, May 21.  I can’t wait to start hand-selling this amazing historical novel. We’ll have copies available at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda on Tuesday, May 21.. I look forward to being able to finally put one in your hands.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My review copy was furnished by Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House. These wonderful people offered a giveaway copy of THE MISTRESS OF THE RITZ and I jumped at the chance to offer it. So, please leave a comment below in order to be  entered to win!!  Only U.S. addresses, please. And, no P.O. boxes, as per usual.  I will choose one winner on Monday, May 20. Don’t miss out on this one. Good luck to all!

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner

Drawing Home

Now here’s a good atmospheric cover for summer.  This is the third summer I’ve read a novel by Jamie Brenner.

Jamie Brenner

I love these light summer reads. They’re all well-written and the characters are colorful. They all take place in summer…..

DRAWING HOME takes place in touristy Sag Harbor, N.Y. Emma has lived in Sag Harbor her entire life. Now she runs the front desk at the American Hotel in town. Very prestigious. Only eight rooms. A bar and restaurant that is usually home to at least one celebrity during the summer. Emma is raising her 14-year-old daughter alone. Once upon a time she was married to a would-be actor who decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. She and her daughter, Penny, seldom see Mark. Penny suffers from OCD and anxiety disorder. It’s challenging but Emma is determined to help Penny through visits to a therapist and not medicine. That may or may not be working right now. Meanwhile, Penny has become friends with Henry Wyatt who is in his eighties and  is the local artist. He’s a very famous artist who moved to Sag Harbor some years ago when he tired of the fast-track of Manhattan.  Some evenings he can be found sitting at the end of the bar at the American Hotel sketching with Penny. He sees something no one else has seen, her talent is something very special.

When Henry Wyatt suddenly dies Penny is devastated. When Penny and her mom  discover Henry has left his entire estate to Penny, it’s  not just shocking, it’s darn right puzzling.  Why would he do this? And then the story begins to unfurl.

When Bea Winstead blows into  town it’s as if a colorful tornado has arrived. In her wake is Kyle, her reluctant assistant. Bea is in town to collect her inheritance, Windsong, Henry’s estate that she is claiming as her own.  And the poop not only hits the fan, it hits the newspaper.

Bea and Henry had something going for years. They had an art gallery in Manhattan together. Bea was the reason Henry became famous.  She always maintained a certain distance because of the business. But could it have been much more?

Bea knows art. She knows talent. Even though Emma and Penny are at unbelievable odds with Bea, she discovers Penny and Henry were working on creating graphic novels. This is where it really is interesting.  Penny was showing Henry how to write a graphic novel. Henry was showing Penny who to ramp up her art. And in so doing helping her with her OCD.

Bea has a key to the mansion and moves in. But it’s not her house to move into….. And now the fighting begins.

You might know Penny’s father, Mark, suddenly shows up again just after she’s inherited a fortune.

There’s much more to this story, but I will leave that up to you to find as you read this enjoyable novel this summer. Because you really should. It’s perfect for summer.

I borrowed my copy of DRAWING SUMMER from the library. I read it overnight. Quick and easy.


Happy Mother’s Day

To all my wonderful reading mom’s I send out a heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day! I wish you a day filled with love and visits and good food, and some quiet time to read a great book.

Reading Woman at the beach.

I found this photo on the internet and think it shows a perfect day at the beach surrounded by books. How cool is this!

I’m thinking of you mom’s who will be pampered and celebrated today. I’m also thinking of those mom’s who might be away from their kids and grandkids.  In this modern day of social media many of you may feel lucky to receive a text, or a Facebook  posting.  I know that has become the norm, however, I think a real call or visit if at all possible is most important…

My mother passed away at the age of 89 almost five years ago.  I never missed Mother’s day.  The few times I was away from home, I called.  Happy Mother’s Day mom.

Mom celebrating.

Many of you are big readers. So I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a great book. I know I have a few on my radar and will be relaxing on the lanai with my kitties and several books. We are hoping to enjoy the first swim of the summer in the pool. It’s ready, and so are we. Cheers!


Maurice Presents 2019 Summer Reading List

I mentioned in my May Musings that I would not overwhelm you with too many books at one time. So, I’m doing something new. I’m giving you a shorter list of books that are already available or coming very soon. Each month I will present MORE.  The new ones will be newly published and truly great reads.

  • THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake ( Put this at the top of your list)
  • SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews
  • MISTRESS OF THE RITZ by Melanie Benjamin ( 5/21)
  • SAVE ME THE PLUMS by Ruth Reichl
  • WHEN WE LEFT CUBA by Chanel Cleeton
  • THE EDITOR by Stephen Rowley
  • DAISY JONES AND THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • A WOMAN IS NO MAN by Etaf Rum ( a must-read for all women)
  • Anything by Lucy Burdett.  Her Key West Food Critic’s mystery series is perfect for summer.

Some great authors are coming out with wonderful new books in the next few months. I will present them the first of each month. Don’t miss out. Sign up for Maurice On Books to arrive in your email inbox each time I make a post!

Maurice’s May Musings

Hello everyone! The love bugs have returned to S.W. Florida with a vengeance. I have’n seen them this bad in forty years. I kid  you not. The good news is that they don’t hang around long. Just long enough to usher in summer. And it’s here. I’m working feverishly on my summer reading list. This year I’ll  try not to overwhelm you. I will dole out recommends slowly so it will give you time to catch your breath.

What did I throw down this month? Sadly, I had to discard MONTAUK by Nicola Harrison. Such high hopes for this summer book with the pristine cover. In fact, I even went out on a limb and mentioned it to some of the book clubs I visited. Keep in mind, this is not a book I was actually recommending. I had not read it. I had hoped it would be the perfect summer read. Alas, it was not. At least not for me. I did not finish it. I did not review it.


Summer color

I’ve been happy with my green thumb this month.  I’ve got herbs and even a pepper plant with real peppers growing on it. Fingers crossed.

We have peppers!

I had the pleasure of attending and being involved in a luncheon for Mary Kay Andrews and her beautiful new novel SUNSET BEACH.  Copperfish Books sponsored Mary Kay’s event and it was such a big success that we will be looking at doing more events like this. Win/win. I saw so many familiar faces yesterday enjoying lunch and being with Mary Kay who lights up the whole room.

Mary Kay Andrews

I’m reading books for fall and even a few for winter so I can be prepared and bring you the best of the best for the upcoming season. It’s a constant work in progress and one I love.

Some of you have voiced concern about the number of WWII books this year. Well, that’s because we’re celebrating 75 years. And that’s a big deal. If you see me reviewing a Word War Two novel, you will know it’s got a lot worth reading. Some of the best authors are writing them this year. Trust me.

Mistress Of The Ritz

For instance: MISTRESS OF THE RITZ is out this month by one of my favorite authors, Melanie Benjamin. Just a teaser. It’s sooo good!

If you haven’t already picked up a copy of THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake, do not hesitate. It’s such a wonderful novel.

Sarah Blake

The Guest Book

Summer really is upon us. That means I’m looking forward to my annual visit to the mountains. Asheville, I’ll see you soon! Cheers!



Lunch With Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach

It was very close to being a book launch for Mary Kay Andrew’s newest novel SUNSET BEACH. Copperfish books hosted a very special luncheon celebrating Mary Kay and her brand new book. We lunched at F.M. Don’s in downtown Punta Gorda, just a skip and a hop away from our Independent bookstore, Copperfish Books,  on Marion Avenue. It was THE place to be today at noon.

Mary Kay On The Stage

Mary Kay regaled  a room filled with loyal and very happy fans with stories about how she makes stories. She is witty and fun and she loves what she does. It really shows.  She was very generous with her time and answered questions from the audience.  She stayed and signed everyone’s books and promised to return. We can’t wait.

Jean With Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay signed a few extra copies of her book so we will have some inventory at Copperfish. Don’t wait, though, come and get them now. They will go quickly.

I enjoyed sharing some history with Mary Kay. We actually met many years ago at Antioch Writer’s Workshop in YellowSprings, Ohio.  She’s become a bestselling novelist now. And she’s earned it!

Mary Kay, Serena Wyckoff, and Cathy Graham

Sending out a big thanks to Serena Wyckoff and Cathy Graham for all the hard work they did to make this fabulous event possible. And, Lizy, thanks for holding down the store while we were out playing.

Thanks to Meg Walker from Tandem Literary for making this a smooth operation…. It was great to finally meet her after working with her for years. Looking forward to next time.

Mary Kay and Meg Walker

Last but not least I would like to thank the generous publishing people at St. Martins Press. You guys are the bomb!