This year marks the 75th anniversary for D-Day and
the Battle of Normandy, an event that brings a massive
plot twist to Melanie Benjamin’s latest addition to the
WWII historical fiction subgenre: MISTRESS OF THE RITZ,
a fascinating look at a little-known historical figure and
her courageous fight against Nazi occupation in Paris.
Blanche Auzello’s world is turned upside down when the
Germans invade Paris and take over the impeccable
Ritz hotel as one of their headquarters. Blanche and
her husband Claude, the hotel’s manager, have enjoyed
a regal, albeit privileged lifestyle, and this new stress
has brought the struggles of their marriage to the
surface. Despite the dangers present in her home,
Blanche Auzello is inspired to find whatever ways
she can to assist the Resistance, and Claude busies
himself with his own risky ventures. Tensions rise, and
Blanche is torn between her attempts to repair her
marriage and her newfound alliance with a key
figure of the Resistance—Lily, a mysterious woman
who shows Blanche what she’s truly capable of.
Title: Mistress of the Ritz
Author: Melanie Benjamin
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
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.
This impeccably researched, lyrically told historical about a brash
American woman and her French husband during WWII is a
remarkable achievement….Even readers who aren’t big fans of historical
fiction might be swayed by this outstanding tale.—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Melanie Benjamin is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling historical novels The Swans of Fifth Avenue, about Truman Capote and his society swans, and The Aviator’s Wife, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Her historical novel, The Girls in the Picture, is about the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford. Her latest novel, Mistress of the Ritz, is a love story set in Nazi-occupied France about two key figures of the French Resistance. Her previous novels include Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb. Her novels have been translated in over fifteen languages, featured in national magazines such as Good Housekeeping, People, and Entertainment Weekly, and optioned for film. She lives in Chicago with her husband, near her two adult sons.