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.
“A compelling portrait of a marriage and a nation at war from within.”—Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network
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.
Praise for Mistress of the Ritz
“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
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. \n
What a Great Book!
“Mistress of the Ritz” was both an engaging and enjoyable read that I thoroughly recommend! For me, it was not only the amazing story it focused on but the captivating characters that were nuanced and as complicated as the time they lived in. The author was able to convey a tenderness between Claude and Blanche (the Master and Mistress of the Ritz) despite the constant tension that existed in their relationship. This tenderness and tension were woven throughout their tale of resistance and subterfuge that defined the Ritz during the German occupation. While the author notes actual history and biography were limited with regards to Blanche and Claude this does did not take away from the novel but rather only makes clearer what the author has done is create historical fiction at it finest. She has taken a fascinating story, researched it and colored in the details with her imagination and skilled writing. For all these reasons, “Mistress at the Ritz” did not disappoint and kept me reading well into the night! I was honored to receive a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the Publisher Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine in exchange for an honest review.