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…
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.
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.
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.
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!