Melanie Benjamin’s well researched historical novels have mostly been about popular characters such as Truman Capote and Mary Pickford. In Mistress of the Ritz she veers from this and tells the story of a couple not well known outside of a small circle in France, but what an amazing story she happened to stumble upon.
Blanche and Claude Auziello have lived a very charmed life in Paris, France. He as the director of the Ritz and she as the Ritz’s designated mistress who charms guests such as Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. But in 1940 when the Germans invade Paris, that all changes in an instant as they set up their operations at the Ritz. Thus begins the downfall of Paris as well as Blanche and Claude.
Both, unbeknownst to the other begin to assist in the resistance movement which threatens to challenge everything they believe in…their marriage, their lives as well as their beloved Ritz. And there are shocking secrets each hold which could lead to their deaths.
As the war wages on they become so involved in what they believe their duty to country is that they lose sight of each other as a couple, but also as each other’s strength. Until it all begins to blow up in their faces and the reality that they could lose each other becomes intolerable.
Even up to its shocking ending, Mistress of the Ritz sucks you into what life was like during Paris’ German occupancy and the courage many had to help get others out of the country. It gives you a glimpse into what life was like for those who were not as fortunate to be wealthy. All along you root for Blanche and Claude as they persevere and try to find the love they once shared as well as the realization of just how much loyalty they have to each other and to the country of France.
Thank you #NetGalley #Random House #Melanie Benjamin #Mistress of the Ritz for the advanced copy. The book is out now.