The BookBrowse Review

Published May 15, 2019

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Contents

In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Reviews
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Latest Author Interviews
Recommended for Book Clubs
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Publishing Soon

Novels


Historical Fiction


Thrillers


Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History


Biography/Memoir


History, Science & Current Affairs


Young Adults

Novels


Extras
  • Blog:
    The Caribbean: A Reading List for Book Clubs and Bookworms
  • Wordplay:
    I I T S Form O F
  • Book Giveaway:
    My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie...
Book Jacket

Mistress of the Ritz
by Melanie Benjamin
21 May 2019
384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
ISBN-13: 9780399182242
Genre: Historical Fiction
Critics:
Readers:
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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 Hôtel Ritz in Paris—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Aviator's Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue.

Nothing bad can happen at the Ritz; inside its gilded walls every woman looks beautiful, every man appears witty. Favored guests like Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor walk through its famous doors to be welcomed and pampered by Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the hotel's director. The Auzellos are the mistress and master of the Ritz, allowing the glamour and glitz to take their minds off their troubled marriage, and off the secrets that they keep from their guests—and each other.

Until June 1940, when the German army sweeps into Paris, setting up headquarters at the Ritz. Suddenly, with the likes of Hermann Goëring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets and lies. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For in order to survive—and strike a blow against their Nazi "guests"—Blanche and Claude must spin a web of deceit that ensnares everything and everyone they cherish.

But one secret is shared between Blanche and Claude alone—the secret that, in the end, threatens to imperil both of their lives, and to bring down the legendary Ritz itself.

Based on true events, Mistress of the Ritz is a taut tale of suspense wrapped up in a love story for the ages, the inspiring story of a woman and a man who discover the best in each other amid the turbulence of war.

"Even readers who aren't big fans of historical fiction might be swayed by this outstanding tale." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"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." - Kirkus Reviews

"Readers of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale (2015) are the natural audience for this book club–ready historical novel." - Booklist

"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." - Library Journal

"A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within." - Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network

"No one writes of the complexities of women's lives and loves like Melanie Benjamin. In Mistress of the Ritz, Benjamin brings wartime Paris brilliantly to life... Intense, illuminating, and ultimately inspiring!" - Elizabeth Letts, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Dorothy

Write your own review

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Betty Taylor
Another previously unknown story from WWII
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.

Melanie Benjamin was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. An avid reader all her life - as a child, she was the proud winner, several years running, of the summer reading program at her local library - she still firmly believes that a lifetime of reading is the best education a writer can have.

While attending Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Melanie performed in many community theater productions before meeting her husband, moving to the Chicago area and raising two sons. Writing was always beckoning, however, and soon she began writing for local magazines and newspapers before venturing into her first love, fiction. As Melanie Hauser, she published two contemporary novels.

By incorporating her passion for history and biography, Melanie, now writing as Melanie Benjamin, has finally found her niche writing historical fiction, concentrating on the "stories behind the stories." Her first historical novel, Alice I Have Been, was published in 2010. This was followed by The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb in July 2011. Her other novels include Alice I Have Been and Mistress of the Ritz.

She and her family still live in the Chicago area; when she's not writing, she's gardening, taking long walks, rooting for the Cubs -

And reading, of course.

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