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The Resource Mistress of the Ritz : a novel, Melanie Benjamin

Mistress of the Ritz : a novel, Melanie Benjamin

Label
Mistress of the Ritz : a novel
Title
Mistress of the Ritz
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Melanie Benjamin
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
A captivating novel based on the story of the extraordinary real-life American woman who secretly worked for the French Resistance during World War II--while playing hostess to the invading Germans at the iconic Hotel Ritz in Paris--from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue. In March 1940, the Nazis sweep Paris and immediately take up residence in one of the city's most iconic sites: The Hotel Ritz. There, under a roof legendary for its unprecedented luxury and for its fabled residents--including Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cole Porter, Hemingway, Balanchine, Doris Duke, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and now Hermann Göring--the Nazis rule over a paralyzed city. But two residents of the Ritz refuse to be defeated: its director, Claude Auzello, and his beautiful American actress wife, Blanche. They not only oversee the smooth workings of the hotel, but both Blanche and Claude throw themselves fearlessly into the dangerous and clandestine workings of the French Resistance. This is a true-to-life novel of a courageous woman and her husband who put their marriage--and ultimately their lives--in jeopardy to fight for freedom. Intimate, fearless, and moving, it spins a brilliantly and unforgettably vivid human portrait at a time of unimaginable crisis and sacrifice
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • Benjamin, who has made a career out of fashioning compulsively readable historical fiction starring real-life women (among several others, The Aviator's Wife, 2013, about Anne Morrow Lindbergh), does it again here with the life story of American expatriate Blanche Auzello, the titular Mistress of the Ritz, whose French husband, Claude, managed the legendary Paris hotel from the Jazz Age into the sixties and, notably, during the German Occupation. The novel improbably but effectively combines a delectable, upstairs-downstairs look at the operation of a luxury hotel; a many-textured and deeply romantic love story; and a compelling drama of the French Resistance. Driving the whole is the tantalizing premise: that both Claude and Blanche, unbeknownst to one another, were deeply involved in the Resistance despite spending their days catering to the Nazis, who had taken over the Ritz. The mutual deception strains the marriage, as Claude feigns multiple affairs to explain his nocturnal absences, while Blanche, who was famous for downing martinis with the likes of Cole Porter and Ernest Hemingway, pretends to spend her nights awash in gin. Readers of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale (2015) are the natural audience for this book club–ready historical novel. -- Bill Ott (Reviewed 4/15/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 16, p28)
  • /* Starred Review */ This impeccably researched, lyrically told historical about a brash American woman and her French husband during WWII is a remarkable achievement. Blanche Ross Auzello doesn’t care for being a proper, quiet wife, much to the dismay of her somewhat stuffy husband, Claude, the manager of Paris’s luxurious Hotel Ritz. In June 1940, Claude returns from military service to find that a host of high-ranking Nazi soldiers have commandeered the hotel as their Paris headquarters. For the next four years, he and Blanche play unwilling hosts to the Germans—and, unbeknownst to each other, both begin working in the French Resistance. They narrowly avoid disaster until immediately before the Americans liberate Paris, when Blanche gets into trouble Claude can’t resolve, and a shocking secret about Blanche’s past is revealed. Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife) skillfully weaves in a host of historical figures—including Coco Chanel, alleged to be a Nazi sympathizer, and Ernest Hemingway—whose vibrant presences make Benjamin’s protagonists and engaging group of supporting characters shine all the more. Even readers who aren’t big fans of historical fiction might be swayed by this outstanding tale. Agent: Laura Langlie, Laura Langlie Agency. (May)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 03/18/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 11, p)
  • Romanced by an Egyptian prince, Blanche Ross arrives at the Ritz Hotel in Paris eager to tryst with her paramour. When he is delayed, hotel manager Claude Auzello shows Blanche around Paris. Soon Claude and Blanche are wed, but their marriage has issues right away. Claude does not understand Blanche's independent ways, and Blanche is hurt by Claude's taking of a mistress. They continue to fight and reconcile within the majestic walls of the Ritz. Their glittering fun with the rich and famous comes to an end when the Nazis invade Paris and move in to the hotel. The occupation puts stress on the already fractured marriage as both Blanche and Claude separately (and secretly) fight the Nazis. VERDICT Benjamin (The Girls in the Picture) uses dual narratives and time lines to fill in the blanks in the little-known history of this remarkable couple. Unfortunately, by framing their history as a tempestuous love story the author then gives short shrift to their heroic wartime service. Equally problematic is Benjamin's sometimes sympathetic portrayal of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. The author is popular, however, so expect demand. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/18.] --Lynnanne Pearson (Reviewed 05/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 4, p90)
  • An American ex-flapper and a Parisian hotelier weather the German takeover of the Paris Ritz. Benjamin’s new novel is a lively portrait of the opulent grand hotel which drew Picasso, Hemingway, Cole Porter—and Hermann Göring. In fact, more than a year before June 14, 1940, when invading Germans marched down the Champs Elysees, Göring and others were visiting Paris hotels to vet future Nazi headquarters. As the Occupation wears on, hotel director Claude Auzello and his American wife, Blanche, find it increasingly difficult to maintain their facade as the happily married team who run the Ritz. Their relationship was already challenged by Claude’s announcement that he had reserved Thursday nights for his mistress. In his insistence that infidelity is a French male privilege, Claude can be insufferable, and Blanche, over the years, has been known to desert him, temporarily. On one such escapade, she befriends Lily, a young radical who goes off to fight in the Spanish Civil War before returning to Paris to draw Blanche into the Resistance. Blanche is disappointed by Claude’s apparent willingness to toady to the Nazis who have become the Ritz’s most privileged guests (along with a certain high-profile collaboratrice, Coco Chanel). The narrative ricochets between the 1920s, when the couple met, and the novel’s present: the Occupation and its antecedents. Thanks to alternating points of view, readers are mostly privy to the secrets Blanche and Claude keep from one another. However, the delay in revealing the most critical secret of all, far from enhancing suspense, hamstrings the full exposition of Blanche as a character. The Auzellos were real people, and the facts of their lives are only a Google away. As Benjamin points out in her author’s note, the Auzellos’ story, though captivating, has not been often told, and the record is sparse. Benjamin hews closely to what is known, but the fully realized humanity of the Auzellos gets lost in the unknown—the realm where novelistic imagination is required. The Ritz itself is the most well-rounded character here. (Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2019)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10775878
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1962-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Benjamin, Melanie
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Auzello, Blanche
  • Auzello, Claude
  • Ritz Hotel (Paris, France)
  • France
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Women spies
  • FICTION / Historical / General
  • FICTION / Literary
  • FICTION / Sagas
Label
Mistress of the Ritz : a novel, Melanie Benjamin
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1050277852
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
372 pages
Isbn
9780399182242
Lccn
2018052997
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1050277852
Label
Mistress of the Ritz : a novel, Melanie Benjamin
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1050277852
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
372 pages
Isbn
9780399182242
Lccn
2018052997
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1050277852

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