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Mistress of the Ritz: A Novel by Melanie…
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Mistress of the Ritz: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Melanie Benjamin (Author)

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12930140,895 (3.94)3
Member:BettyTaylor56
Title:Mistress of the Ritz: A Novel
Authors:Melanie Benjamin (Author)
Info:Delacorte Press (2019), Edition: 1st, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won this book from the Early Reviewers group here on Library Thing. It's a well written story, based on fact, of the lives of Claude Auzello, manager of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and his American wife, Blanche. The story unfolds from the freewheeling 1920s through the thirties and the deep, dark days of the German occupation of Paris during WWIi. It's very atmospheric: stories historical persons either make cameo appearances (Chanel, Hemingway, Dietrich) or are mentioned , (Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor). The Auzellos' story takes us through the tensions of their lives lived, together and separately throughout the war years, and the secret that binds them together. The book is a well researched, well written story that often surprised me. ( )
  chrisac | Jul 22, 2019 |
This book is "inspired" by true events since for once the author couldn't find any reliable source material so she made up a great deal. And maybe that made the difference because this book wasn't as good as her other books The Aviator's Wife and The Girl in the Picture. This book was about Master and Mistress Ritz, the Auzellos, Blanche and Claude who run the Ritz in Paris during World War II. It's told through the eyes of both of them--each taking a chapter.

Claude's viewpoint starts at the beginning when they met in 1923 and he takes his job managing the Ritz. Theirs is a whirlwind romance and they're married before they know anything about each other including when Claude wants to take a mistress like all Frenchmen do and tells her about it. This does not go over well with Blanche who believes in being faithful to your spouse.

Blanche's dialogue picks up when the Nazi's have taken over Paris and the Ritz, though the hotel is allowed to stay open for business unlike the other hotels in the area. Sometimes she looks back in time to when she met Lily a Russian communist who goes off to fight in the Spanish Civil War. They form a close friendship so that when Lily returns to Paris and needs help, Blanche gives it and demands that she be allowed to aide the Resistance. While Claude is obsessed with protecting the Ritz, Blanche is doing something important. But Claude promised no more mistresses until the phone starts ringing at odd hours and hanging up. A signal from his mistress to come running.

This book is just one more in a million books set during the War with people working with the Resistance. It is interesting to see how much Coco Channel who stays at the Ritz cozies up to the Nazis and begins a romance with one of them. But this book offers nothing new and I preferred other books such as Code Name Verity and D-Day Girls and All the Light We Cannot See. Maybe it would have been better if she had had more to work with. Or maybe the subject matter is overdone. Benjamin excels at writing books that are based on lots of source material but this book shows that she flounders when she has to make it up on her own. I give this book an extra star for being based on real people which somehow makes it more interesting. My score is three and a half stars out of five.

Quotes

He felt that women were at times more bothersome than they were pleasurable. But only at times.

-Melanie Benjamin (Mistress Of the Ritz p 59)

As if, in talking about her, she is real to him; and if he couldn’t talk about her, he’d be afraid she would disappear.

-Melanie Benjamin (Mistress of the Ritz p 108)

That is what occupation does—it wears you down until you accept evil. Until you can no longer define it, even. Let alone recognize it.

-Melanie Benjamin (Mistress of the Ritz p 238) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Jul 22, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love reading books about WWII and learning history at the same time. This novel takes place in my favorite place in the world - Paris and is about a real life couple, Claude and Blanche Auzello. Claude is the manager of the Ritz Hotel and Blanche, an American, has been nicknamed the mistress of the Ritz because she spends so much of her time in the bar talking to and pampering patrons such as Hemingway and Picasso. Claude is very serious and the Ritz is his whole life. Blanche is a real people person who feels that she comes second to the Ritz in her husband's eyes. Their marriage is on rocky ground when the Nazis invade Paris in June, 1940, and set up their headquarters at the Ritz. Claude and Blanche must start being helpful and gracious to the high ranking Nazi officers to stay out of trouble and be able to retain their jobs. Instead of working together, their rocky marriage continues to keep them apart and they keep important secrets from each other that could imperil them and the Ritz Hotel. Will Blanche, Claude, their marriage and the Ritz survive the war?

This well researched book about a little known couple from Paris is fascinating and intriguing. How they handled going from taking care of important people to taking care of the Nazi hierarchy was amazing especially since the officers tended to be very cruel to the Auzellos and actually to all Parisians.

Be sure to read the Author's Notes at the end of the book to find out more about Claude and Blanche and the true story of the Ritz in WWII.

Thanks to library thing for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own. ( )
  susan0316 | Jul 14, 2019 |
It seems that more and more previously unknown stories keep coming out revolving around WWII. MISTRESS OF THE RITZ is one of those stories. I had no idea when I began reading the book that it was based upon the lives of the real Claude and Blanche Auzello. They bravely participated in the Resistance right under the noses of the Nazi party. Suspenseful, inspiring, and heartbreaking, this is a story that will linger in your memory I absolutely loved this book. ( )
  BettyTaylor56 | Jul 11, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
According to the author’s notes, there’s not much available information on real-life Claude and Blanche Auzello, so this story of historical fiction is inspired by (rather than based upon) the lives of the manager of the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris and his Jewish, posing as Catholic, wife.

The plot started slow while getting to know the characters, but picked up steam a little more than half-way through when World War II’s French resistance started to appear, offering a chill reminder of what life under the Nazi regime would be like.

The book, told from both Claude’s and Blanche’s point of view, switches between the 1920s when they first met and the 1940s during WWII and after they had been married and living at the The Ritz, but each chapter heading was clearly marked, making it easy to follow. ( )
  pinklady60 | Jul 7, 2019 |
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To Ben, who had to wait for this one.
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Blanche is dead.
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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 G?oering--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.… (more)

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