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Mistress of the Ritz

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Mistress of the Ritz

May 2019

MISTRESS OF THE RITZ by Melanie Benjamin is set in Paris during World War II. There, Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, are the mistress and master of the Hôtel Ritz, one of the city's best-known hotels. Blanche is American and is hiding a secret from the Nazis who are encamped at the Ritz. She’s also a member of the Resistance, going to all lengths to try to outwit the Germans, who she feels are causing blight on a place she loves so much. Claude is trying to balance the demands of the Germans with those of the other hotel guests who have been decamped to the drearier part of the building.

It’s based on true events, and you will find yourself rooting for both Blanche and Claude as they navigate some very tough waters, putting their lives on the line. Their marriage is fraught with issues, and living in such close proximity to the enemy ratchets up the tension. Blanche is a real broad, and she constantly pushes the envelope until one day she pushes it too far.

The Ritz is a character here, one that gives it an angle that makes it more than a book set during World War II. Readers will pine to have spent time with the notable guests who frequented the hotel, including Coco Chanel. While war is being plotted within its walls, the hotel still stands proud and tall under Claude’s watch. And, ah, to have had a seat at the bar there; it would have been a real moment.

The novel has a conclusion that I did not see coming and had me scrambling to do my own research to learn more about Blanche and Claude. There is lots for book groups to talk about here!

Mistress of the Ritz
by Melanie Benjamin

  • Publication Date: May 21, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0399182241
  • ISBN-13: 9780399182242