Mistress of the Ritz
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. 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 Goring moving into suites once occupied by royalty, Blanche and Claude must navigate a terrifying new reality. One that entails even more secrets. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi "guests," 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.

Mistress of the Ritz Details

TitleMistress of the Ritz
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 21st, 2019
PublisherDelacorte Press
ISBN-139780399182242
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, World War II

Mistress of the Ritz Review

  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    When the Nazi’s occupied Paris the Luftwaffe (including Hermann Goering) took over half of the Ritz as their headquarters. The other half was inhabited by civilians among them Coco Chanel. The director of the hotel (Frenchman Claude Auzello) and his American wife (Blanche) are forced to continue to operate the hotel to the usual stellar standards in order to survive. Based on a true story that is mostly unknown, Mistress of the Ritz fictionalizes the marriage and resistance work undertaken by th When the Nazi’s occupied Paris the Luftwaffe (including Hermann Goering) took over half of the Ritz as their headquarters. The other half was inhabited by civilians among them Coco Chanel. The director of the hotel (Frenchman Claude Auzello) and his American wife (Blanche) are forced to continue to operate the hotel to the usual stellar standards in order to survive. Based on a true story that is mostly unknown, Mistress of the Ritz fictionalizes the marriage and resistance work undertaken by the couple. I found the second half of the novel to be more compelling than the first half where the Auzello’s argumentative marriage is displayed to the nth degree. I got it. They had a troubled marriage. Although the big reveal is anticipated, the final three paragraphs are not. All in all, this is a worthy addition to WWII historical fiction.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I expect three things from historical fiction:•A good story•The ability to paint a picture so true I feel immersed in the time and place•To learn something I previously didn’t know. The Mistress of the Ritz manages all three. Based on true events, the Auzellos are the “master and mistress of the Ritz”, he the manager of the famous hotel. The story gives us their history from their tempestuous beginning through their 17 years of marriage when the Nazis arrive in Paris and take over the hotel. And I expect three things from historical fiction:•A good story•The ability to paint a picture so true I feel immersed in the time and place•To learn something I previously didn’t know. The Mistress of the Ritz manages all three. Based on true events, the Auzellos are the “master and mistress of the Ritz”, he the manager of the famous hotel. The story gives us their history from their tempestuous beginning through their 17 years of marriage when the Nazis arrive in Paris and take over the hotel. And from there, things get even more intense. Blanche is headstrong, independent and hiding secrets from everyone including her husband. Claude is shocked to learn his wife has “the vocabulary of a dockworker”. It takes him quite a while to cotton to the differences between French and American sensibilities. It took me a while to warm to this book. I was worried at the beginning it would be too much romance, not enough history. It tackles some interesting issues, especially when Blanche struggles with liking some of the ordinary German soldiers that work at the Ritz. Or when Claude struggles to maintain his cool when being forced to kowtow to the Nazis, all the while with his own secrets. Benjamin takes her time but then weaves enough historical facts into the story to win me over as to the third item on my list. She doesn’t pull any punches, she shows us both the resistance and the collaborators, like Coco Chanel. For readers who enjoy Martha Hall Kelly, Pam Jenoff or Kate Quinn, I would recommend they give Melanie Benjamin a try. My thanks to netgalley and Delacorte Press for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Theresa Alan
    January 1, 1970
    American Blanche falls for Frenchman Claude. After a brief, dizzying, whirlwind romance, they marry. The bliss quickly turns to petty fights, in part because of their different cultural upbringings. However, they both enjoy the glitz of the Ritz in Paris, where Claude is the hotel’s director. They revel in hobnobbing with the likes of Hemingway and Coco Chanel and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But when Nazi’s take over the hotel during World War II, Claude has keep his disdain and anger toward them to hi American Blanche falls for Frenchman Claude. After a brief, dizzying, whirlwind romance, they marry. The bliss quickly turns to petty fights, in part because of their different cultural upbringings. However, they both enjoy the glitz of the Ritz in Paris, where Claude is the hotel’s director. They revel in hobnobbing with the likes of Hemingway and Coco Chanel and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But when Nazi’s take over the hotel during World War II, Claude has keep his disdain and anger toward them to himself, while Blanche acts out, but subtly. It shouldn’t surprise me that Germans would take over the fancy hotels wherever they wanted, but this was not a story that I’d heard before—the true story of this married couple I’d never heard of. For fans of historical fiction, Melanie Benjamin doesn’t disappoint.Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this novel, which RELEASES MAY 21, 2019.For more reviews, please visit http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    A compelling read about a marriage set against the backdrop of World War II and the glamorous Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. Claude's infidelity and Blanche's brash American attitude cause troublesome times as the couple struggle with their marriage and manage life in the face of war. The couple is hiding one huge secret that would place them both in the crosshairs of the Germans. Claude, as the director of the hotel, has to bow and scrape to the Germans in order to keep his jobBenjamin's prose fl A compelling read about a marriage set against the backdrop of World War II and the glamorous Ritz Hotel in Paris, France. Claude's infidelity and Blanche's brash American attitude cause troublesome times as the couple struggle with their marriage and manage life in the face of war. The couple is hiding one huge secret that would place them both in the crosshairs of the Germans. Claude, as the director of the hotel, has to bow and scrape to the Germans in order to keep his jobBenjamin's prose flows beautifully and is engrossing. The characters are so richly drawn that you can see them and feel their emotions. There are several recognizable characters in the book - usually staying at the Ritz and hanging out in the bar: Earnest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, to name a few. The book provides a different view of World War II from the occupied hotel and from the French Resistance.Thanks to Melanie Benjamin and to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine/Delacourt Press through Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Barb
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Melanie Benjamin excels at doing the necessary research and writing novels that have real people as the main characters...be it Anne Lindbergh, Mary Pickford or Truman Capote. In her novel "The Mistress of the Ritz", she introduces us to the little known true story of Blanche and Claude Auzello during the WWII German occupation of Paris. Claude is the director of the Ritz Hotel. Blanche Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Melanie Benjamin excels at doing the necessary research and writing novels that have real people as the main characters...be it Anne Lindbergh, Mary Pickford or Truman Capote. In her novel "The Mistress of the Ritz", she introduces us to the little known true story of Blanche and Claude Auzello during the WWII German occupation of Paris. Claude is the director of the Ritz Hotel. Blanche is his high spirited American wife. Both have secrets that contribute to turbulence in their marriage and danger to their lives. I love historical novels for their ability to educate as well as entertain. This book did both for me. Written in alternating chapters, Claude and Blanche tell their story of mingling with famous guests such as Hemingway, Coco Chanel, etc. and more importantly dealing with the Nazi when the Ritz becomes their headquarters. I highly recommend this book that will be out in May 2019.
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  • Jonah ❤️LIBROCUBICULARIST❤️
    January 1, 1970
    One of the reasons why I love historical fiction is we get to read a-not-so-famous person in a book and we get curious about that person. I do remember reading a little bit of Blanche Rubeinstein Auzello somewhere - either in a novel or article - and I wanted to know more about her. Blanche and the Ritz – somehow this two are still tied together even today. I was so excited when I receive this copy from NetGalley that I can finally read her story – fiction or not. Blanche is an American spirited One of the reasons why I love historical fiction is we get to read a-not-so-famous person in a book and we get curious about that person. I do remember reading a little bit of Blanche Rubeinstein Auzello somewhere - either in a novel or article - and I wanted to know more about her. Blanche and the Ritz – somehow this two are still tied together even today. I was so excited when I receive this copy from NetGalley that I can finally read her story – fiction or not. Blanche is an American spirited daughter of German-Jewish parents who came from New York and married a Frenchman. Her husband Claude ran the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris while she has been dubbed as the “Mistress of the Ritz” as she helped famous people stayed in the hotel and brought many important businesses in the hotel. While I do not want to give so many details here, her story is quite remarkable, and she should be seen as one of the unsung heroes as she did help with the French Resistance along with her friend Lily Kharmanyoff.Famous people mentioned in the book:Coco Chanel – it’s long been known that she has a Nazi German lover named Hans Gunther von Dincklage. Ernest Hemingway – “I liberated Paris!”F.Scott FitzgeraldPablo PicassoCole PorterRecommended to those voracious readers of the World War II!Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced readers copy for an exchange of unbiased review.
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  • Susan Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    I think this is the best of Melanie Benjamin's novels. She writes about the rich and famous and sometimes tends to go overboard on her appreciation and admiration of them. This is slightly different. It is the story of Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the director of the Ritz Hotel in Paris before and during WWII. But for fans don't worry. There are plenty of rich and famous staying at the Ritz including Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and not too many Jews to spoi I think this is the best of Melanie Benjamin's novels. She writes about the rich and famous and sometimes tends to go overboard on her appreciation and admiration of them. This is slightly different. It is the story of Blanche Auzello and her husband, Claude, the director of the Ritz Hotel in Paris before and during WWII. But for fans don't worry. There are plenty of rich and famous staying at the Ritz including Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and not too many Jews to spoil the atmosphere. Blanche is a young American who comes to Paris as an aspiring actress and girlfriend of an Egyptian prince. She is swept off her feet by the charming and debonair Claude. They are soon married and he secures the position of manager of the Ritz. The Ritz becomes the third party in their marriage and Blanche spends all of her time there to be with Claude. She likes to drink and entertain the rich and famous. Claude hones his abilities to provide for his guests desires. Claude is also French and takes a mistress he visits every Thursday. He can not understand why Blanche is so upset as French women accept this. There is a rift in their relationship. Blanche makes new friends including a young girl, Lily, who is a waif and homeless. As the Germans take Paris over they make the Ritz their headquarters. The couple must serve them but Claude draws the line. He refuses to shake their hands as he provides for their every need. He has no choice if he wants to keep them and the staff safe. Because of the mistrust in their relationship, neither knows the other is working for the Resistance. The scenes of occupied France are heart breaking. There have been a lot of books about WWII in 2019 and I don't know why it's so popular lately. I was getting a little tired of it but with the bombing of so many synagogues lately I have decided that they are important to remind people of what hate does. We all need to be reminded of where the slippery slope of undeserved dislike of other people can take us. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Laurie's Lit Picks
    January 1, 1970
    I have read most of Benjamin's historically based novels and enjoyed them all; this is another winner. This time around she focuses on the manager of the Ritz, Claude Auzello, and his wife Blanche. As famous people come in and out of the hotel, as the Nazis make this iconic residence a meeting spot for SS powers, and as danger lurks around every corner as the secret workings of the French Resistance occupy the workers, we see the inner workings of the Paris Ritz. What I found most fascinating ab I have read most of Benjamin's historically based novels and enjoyed them all; this is another winner. This time around she focuses on the manager of the Ritz, Claude Auzello, and his wife Blanche. As famous people come in and out of the hotel, as the Nazis make this iconic residence a meeting spot for SS powers, and as danger lurks around every corner as the secret workings of the French Resistance occupy the workers, we see the inner workings of the Paris Ritz. What I found most fascinating about this book was the relationship between Claude and Blanche; I realized that my initial opinions of their character slowly changed as the life of occupied France morphed the two of them into different people. If you like WWII historical fiction, this is the book for you. Thanks to Net Galley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M
    January 1, 1970
    This one really surprised me. I was skeptical of the shifting times and POVs, and the slow stage-setting, only to be mesmerized by how everything suddenly fit together, like a Flemish bond brick facade--elegant, perfect, and enduring.And Paris was perfect. And so was the bitter, oppressive, and dangerous world of the Occupation that debilitated and destroyed both bodies and souls. This was not chick-lit or Harlequin WWII. At all.More substantive review to follow. Thanks to NetGalley for a great This one really surprised me. I was skeptical of the shifting times and POVs, and the slow stage-setting, only to be mesmerized by how everything suddenly fit together, like a Flemish bond brick facade--elegant, perfect, and enduring.And Paris was perfect. And so was the bitter, oppressive, and dangerous world of the Occupation that debilitated and destroyed both bodies and souls. This was not chick-lit or Harlequin WWII. At all.More substantive review to follow. Thanks to NetGalley for a great read for a change--the polar opposite of that potboiler, The Lost Girls of Paris.
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  • Maine Colonial
    January 1, 1970
    I’m a voracious reader of WW2 fiction and non-fiction, I love Paris and I enjoyed Melanie Benjamin’s Swans of Fifth Avenue (though not so much The Girls in the Picture), so there was no chance I wasn’t going to read this book. On the other hand, I was underwhelmed by a recent book about The Ritz in World War II, Tilar Mazzeo’s The Hotel on Place Vendome. Because of those competing experiences, I went into this with a wait-and-see attitude.The book started off a little too self-consciously porten I’m a voracious reader of WW2 fiction and non-fiction, I love Paris and I enjoyed Melanie Benjamin’s Swans of Fifth Avenue (though not so much The Girls in the Picture), so there was no chance I wasn’t going to read this book. On the other hand, I was underwhelmed by a recent book about The Ritz in World War II, Tilar Mazzeo’s The Hotel on Place Vendome. Because of those competing experiences, I went into this with a wait-and-see attitude.The book started off a little too self-consciously portentous for me, as Claude and Blanche Auzello return to the Ritz from the south soon after the Nazis have taken Paris and commandeered half of the Ritz. Then, a hint is dropped early on about some secret of Blanche’s, and you just know this will be oh-so-subtly alluded to several times before there is finally a big reveal. That kind of plot element always seems gimmicky to me, especially when (as in this case) it’s not difficult to guess what the secret is.Despite this inauspicious start, I read on. I’m not finding the story of Claude and Blanche’s relationship particularly interesting, but I continue. I’m figuring things will become more compelling when the focus is on the WW2 era when the Germans occupied Paris and one of the two wings of the Ritz became home to the Nazi command. Well, it would have been more compelling except for one thing or, actually, two things. First, so much of the plot depends on Claude and Blanche not confiding in each other. In fiction, this is called the “idiot plot” and I really dislike the idiot plot. But even worse than the idiot plot is a character you are supposed to like but who behaves like an idiot. And that’s Blanche, the quintessential too-stupid-to-live character. Not that she’s actually stupid; no, she’s worse because she does things that are needlessly risky and dangerous for herself and others. It’s infuriating and unnecessary to the plot, because all the same things in the plot could have happened without Blanche behaving stupidly. In other words, let’s have the woman character behave idiotically for no good reason. This is not something I admire in a novel.On the plus side, the last 10% of the novel, from the time the Allies re-take Paris, is strong and affecting. Too little, too late for me, though.Melanie Benjamin writes that she was inspired to write a novel about Claude and Blanche Auzello because there is little historical documentation about them, even though he ran the Ritz for decades and he and Blanche lived there through the intense WW2 period. She’s absolutely right that this makes them seem like great characters for a historical novel. I just wish she had not treated Blanche so shabbily.
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  • eyes.2c
    January 1, 1970
    A drama "'inspired' by a true story and real people."I must admit that when I began reading Mistress of the Ritz I was unsure about how my response would pan out. By the end I was absolutely fascinated by American Parisian Blanche Ross Auzello's story. Of how she came to be involved with Claude Auzello, who become Director of the famed Ritz Hotel. And most importantly, Blanche's presence and impact at the Ritz.The tone throughout the novel is right up there with, "The Germans wore grey. You wore A drama "'inspired' by a true story and real people."I must admit that when I began reading Mistress of the Ritz I was unsure about how my response would pan out. By the end I was absolutely fascinated by American Parisian Blanche Ross Auzello's story. Of how she came to be involved with Claude Auzello, who become Director of the famed Ritz Hotel. And most importantly, Blanche's presence and impact at the Ritz.The tone throughout the novel is right up there with, "The Germans wore grey. You wore blue." (from Casablanca [movie])The story flits between Claude and Blanche, between the early days of their relationship (1920's) and forward to the days of 'Occupation'. (March 1940 on) The central player around which all swirls is of course, the Ritz. The story of Paris under Nazi rule comes to life. The response when the Germans marched into Paris, the survival of the couple the hotel's workers and previous inhabitants, as the top eschelon of the German ranks took over the hotel is suspense filled. Eventually it would be that Blanche and Claude were the right people in the right place, working for the Resistance, although neither knew about each other's covert activities. Overtime the secrets Blanche particularly held onto would have cowered a lesser person.And then there's Lily, the passionate, almost frenetic revolutionary whose loyalties took her from France to Spain and the Civil War, then back to France and who knows where in between. At times though the descriptions of Blanche are somewhat removed, like looking through a glass darkly. Lily though looked at Blanche and really saw her, saw her compassion, and challenged Blanche to become more.This was a startingly different story to what I expected with lots of little treasured moments to pick to pick over.The almost prissy Claude with his expectations that wives of course understand that Frenchmen have mistresses was a recurring theme Blanche couldn't get her head around. This practice was not for her, the girl from US of A!Then of course the other stars of the Ritz are included. Hemingway, Picasso, and the infamous Coco!Amongst the current plethora of WWII tales, Mistress of the Ritz turned out to be a thoroughly fascinating read.A Random House Ballantine ARC via NetGalley
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  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    5 remarkable stars!!This is the story of Claude and Blanche Auzello during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis during WWII and just prior to that. Claude is the Director of the Ritz while his wife Blanche is called the “mistress of the Ritz.” Claude is very good at what he does. Blanche is a “reformed” flapper who loves it at the Ritz, but all is not well in her and Claude's marriage. When Blanche meets Lily, she is entranced and appreciative of having a true woman friend with whom she can shar 5 remarkable stars!!This is the story of Claude and Blanche Auzello during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis during WWII and just prior to that. Claude is the Director of the Ritz while his wife Blanche is called the “mistress of the Ritz.” Claude is very good at what he does. Blanche is a “reformed” flapper who loves it at the Ritz, but all is not well in her and Claude's marriage. When Blanche meets Lily, she is entranced and appreciative of having a true woman friend with whom she can share her problems and dreams. She meets some of Lily's friends and then gets herself into some must be kept secret actions. This book outlines what it was like for the Parisians during the war. The people who “disappeared,” the deterioration of conditions in Paris, the sacrifices the citizens had to make to get by are all detailed. Claude and Blanche think that they understand one another, but they really don't. Blanche thinks that Claude is pandering to the Nazis who have more or less taken over the Ritz. Claude thinks that Blanche is a ditz who drinks too much with her friend Lily. But Blanche has a potentially devastating secret that could bring an end to herself, Claude and the Ritz. The truth of Claude and Blanche's relationship finally is revealed in heartwarming prose.This is a remarkably well written and plotted novel. It reads linearly; that is to say one event follows another in a logical fashion. The transitions are smooth and flawless. I don't know how Ms. Benjamin does it. She writes with such authority. She obviously does her research well. I truly enjoyed this book as I have the other Melanie Benjamin novels I have read. I want to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine/Ballantine and NetGalley for forwarding to me a copy of this truly wonderful book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Mistress of the Ritz is an interesting story. A married couple, Blanche and Claude, run The Ritz in Paris. During the WWII occupation of Paris, Nazis billeted the Ritz. Imagine catering to people you despise. The story is told from different perspectives which is intriguing. It's always nice to understand how different characters view the same situation. It's a well written thoughtful story about a couple doing their best with the hotel and their marriage during a terrible time. It's a good piec Mistress of the Ritz is an interesting story. A married couple, Blanche and Claude, run The Ritz in Paris. During the WWII occupation of Paris, Nazis billeted the Ritz. Imagine catering to people you despise. The story is told from different perspectives which is intriguing. It's always nice to understand how different characters view the same situation. It's a well written thoughtful story about a couple doing their best with the hotel and their marriage during a terrible time. It's a good piece of historical fiction. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jen LaRowe
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 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 I received a free copy through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 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. One that may destroy the tempestuous marriage between this beautiful, reckless American and her very proper Frenchman. For the falsehoods they tell to survive, and to strike a blow against their Nazi “guests,” 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.Blanche is an inspiring historical figure. She risked everything to maintain who she truly was and was unapologetic for it. Going into this book, I knew nothing about Blanche and Claude Auzello, but I am glad I know their story and sacrifices now. I give Mistress of the Ritz 4 stars. It was slow to start, but when it got going, I couldn't put it down.
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  • Kimberly Mussell
    January 1, 1970
    Melanie Benjamin never disappoints! Her prose and her heartfelt story lines pull you into the story. Not only are you a voyeur of the story, but you become part of the story. I have not loved a character in such a long time as I do Blanche. Knowing this is based on true events, makes it even better. 5 stars across the board. Thank you NetGalley and thank you Melanie!!!!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tough one. The premise sounds so promising. The novel is set at the Ritz in Paris, where Claude is the director. Blanche is his beautiful but unpredictable American wife. They spend most of their marriage fighting with each other. Claude thinks Blanche should be, in his eyes, the typical french wife. This includes cooking for him and allowing him to have a mistress. But then, war arrives and everything changes.While I enjoyed this book, like many other readers have pointed out, it was This is a tough one. The premise sounds so promising. The novel is set at the Ritz in Paris, where Claude is the director. Blanche is his beautiful but unpredictable American wife. They spend most of their marriage fighting with each other. Claude thinks Blanche should be, in his eyes, the typical french wife. This includes cooking for him and allowing him to have a mistress. But then, war arrives and everything changes.While I enjoyed this book, like many other readers have pointed out, it was not hard to figure out the big secret being kept by one our main characters. I also felt there was too much emphasis placed on how often this couple fought and how unhappy their marriage seemed. I understand that it plays a part in their dynamic, but it seemed a little over emphasized. I did enjoy the fact that this is based off of real people and real events. I had never heard of the Auzellos before this book. It does help to remind you that there are people out there who fight. All in all, an enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC for review.
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  • Deidre Butkus
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGallery. Blanche’s story is one that I’ve read many times while reading about the Resistance that took place during WWII. But Blanche’s story is different. She is married to Claude, who is the director of The Ritz in Paris during the war. German soldiers take The Ritz as their home, leaving the two vulnerable. The story splits its chapters between Blanche and Claude’s stories and how they keep secrets from one another, but at the end of the day th I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGallery. Blanche’s story is one that I’ve read many times while reading about the Resistance that took place during WWII. But Blanche’s story is different. She is married to Claude, who is the director of The Ritz in Paris during the war. German soldiers take The Ritz as their home, leaving the two vulnerable. The story splits its chapters between Blanche and Claude’s stories and how they keep secrets from one another, but at the end of the day they each play their part. I thoroughly enjoyed how Melanie Benjamin weaves the history and the nonfiction parts of our characters lives together effortlessly. Highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading about fighting back against the German’s subtly during WWII.
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  • Debi Hawkes
    January 1, 1970
    As shared in the Authors Note, there is very little out there about two of our main characters, Claude and Blanche Auzello, Google turns up very little. Which really is very interesting given their tenor at The Ritz Paris (our 3rd main character) and the many famous people they interacted with over such tumultuous years.But therein lies the delight of this historically inspired fiction, the author, who is quite talented, is allowed to envision and create a compelling story which does fit the lim As shared in the Authors Note, there is very little out there about two of our main characters, Claude and Blanche Auzello, Google turns up very little. Which really is very interesting given their tenor at The Ritz Paris (our 3rd main character) and the many famous people they interacted with over such tumultuous years.But therein lies the delight of this historically inspired fiction, the author, who is quite talented, is allowed to envision and create a compelling story which does fit the limited known facts.I received an ARC from NetGalley and publisher Delacorte Press in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Waleska 'Wally'
    January 1, 1970
    I first "discovered" Melanie Benjamin when I read her amazing book The Swans of Fifth Avenue , since then , I read , The Aviator's Wife and The Girls in the Picture all great reads.When I found out about Mistress of the Ritz , I couldn't wait to read it and I am happy I did. Ms. Benjamin never disappoints. Mistress of the Ritz , as with her other books , is based on a true story . It is a tale of love , extra-marital affairs , intrigue, politics , overindulgence, of ex-pats and celebrities livin I first "discovered" Melanie Benjamin when I read her amazing book The Swans of Fifth Avenue , since then , I read , The Aviator's Wife and The Girls in the Picture all great reads.When I found out about Mistress of the Ritz , I couldn't wait to read it and I am happy I did. Ms. Benjamin never disappoints. Mistress of the Ritz , as with her other books , is based on a true story . It is a tale of love , extra-marital affairs , intrigue, politics , overindulgence, of ex-pats and celebrities living in Paris during the Nazi occupation of France. Ms. Benjamin does historical fiction right , she stays close to historical facts and adds her incredible storytelling abilities and imagination to create a fun , engaging and entertaining read. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review.
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  • Peggy A. Miller
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I am a voracious reader of WWll historical fiction, this one really surprised me, was skeptical of the shifting times and the slow start only to become mesmerized when all seemed to fit togetherNothing bad happens at the Ritz! This is the story of Blanche and Claude who run the Ritz in Paris, during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis took over the Ritz. I enjoyed this story about a real life couple and the s Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I am a voracious reader of WWll historical fiction, this one really surprised me, was skeptical of the shifting times and the slow start only to become mesmerized when all seemed to fit togetherNothing bad happens at the Ritz! This is the story of Blanche and Claude who run the Ritz in Paris, during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis took over the Ritz. I enjoyed this story about a real life couple and the secrets and intrigue going on in Paris during WWll
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  • Me
    January 1, 1970
    The publisher sent this book to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I had enjoyed a previous book of Melanie Benjamin's - The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, and so I was already looking forward to this book. Based on a true story, this book is set in WWII, Paris, at the Ritz Hotel. The author does a great job of recreating the mood, opulence, and famous guests of the Ritz. However, I felt that after a while, the first part of the book dragged on in its description of the Auzell The publisher sent this book to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I had enjoyed a previous book of Melanie Benjamin's - The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, and so I was already looking forward to this book. Based on a true story, this book is set in WWII, Paris, at the Ritz Hotel. The author does a great job of recreating the mood, opulence, and famous guests of the Ritz. However, I felt that after a while, the first part of the book dragged on in its description of the Auzello's marriage. However, by the time that the Nazi's began their occupation of France, taking over residence in the Ritz, it became clear why the author so determinedly painted a clear picture of the marriage and personalities. The second part of the book is absolutely captivating and without giving away the ending, I'll just say that "real life is stranger than fiction"! This book begs for a movie to be made!
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  • Tiffany Foskey
    January 1, 1970
    Melanie Benjamin does it again with this amazing novel about a courageous husband and wife!!!!!!!!!!! I have read every one of her books and this one is another best seller. This novel drew me in from the first page until the last. Blanche and Claude Azullo are a Parisian couple living the high life as the mistress and master of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Until the war comes to their beloved Ritz. During this war they both will do things they never thought they would and they will keep secrets fro Melanie Benjamin does it again with this amazing novel about a courageous husband and wife!!!!!!!!!!! I have read every one of her books and this one is another best seller. This novel drew me in from the first page until the last. Blanche and Claude Azullo are a Parisian couple living the high life as the mistress and master of the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Until the war comes to their beloved Ritz. During this war they both will do things they never thought they would and they will keep secrets from each other all in the name of their beloved Ritz and Paris. Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Ballantine for my honest review on this book.
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  • Shannon Dyer
    January 1, 1970
    Solidly enjoyable. Review to come at AAR.
  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    This was really different from other WWII books I’ve read (a good thing)! Full review to come closer to publication.
  • Tina Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    This book opens with Claude and Blanche Auzello returning home to Nazi-occupied Paris. Their first stop is the Ritz, a place they call home, and Claude is the director. They are shocked and saddened to discover that it has been overrun by Germans and that they have been displaced in their own home.This book spans two decades and is told in alternating POV’s between Claude and Blanche. We learn how they meet, their quick courtship, marriage and so on.Claude and Blanche’s marriage ran hot and cold This book opens with Claude and Blanche Auzello returning home to Nazi-occupied Paris. Their first stop is the Ritz, a place they call home, and Claude is the director. They are shocked and saddened to discover that it has been overrun by Germans and that they have been displaced in their own home.This book spans two decades and is told in alternating POV’s between Claude and Blanche. We learn how they meet, their quick courtship, marriage and so on.Claude and Blanche’s marriage ran hot and cold. Claude is French and Blanche is American. A lot of their struggles seemed to stem from their vastly different backgrounds. Although it seemed like they would almost be better off without each other, they did share a deep unbreakable love that was worth fighting for.I enjoyed the use of the Ritz as the backdrop to this story. The Ritz itself went though quite the transformation throughout the years. It housed the rich and the famous and had its share of scandals, unsavory characters, and unfortunate deaths.I had some trouble connecting with these characters. The best way for me to describe this book is peaks and valleys. I was up and down with it throughout until the end when it became very intense and I could not pull myself away until I found out how it would end.Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end. It reveals a very shocking event that took place in the life of the real Claude and Blanche Auzello that did not make it into the story.*Thank you Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review this book via NetGalley for my honest opinion.
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  • Wendy Golding
    January 1, 1970
    I'm unsure of how I feel about this book and story. Almost the whole first half, character development, yes, but a lot of name dropping, was rather dull. However, it seemed to be necessary for the second half of the story about the three main characters; Blanche, Claude and The Ritz Hotel in Paris. It still surprises me, after reading so many books that take place during WW2, that I am still learning new things that happened then. I enjoyed the author's embellishment of the lives she invented fo I'm unsure of how I feel about this book and story. Almost the whole first half, character development, yes, but a lot of name dropping, was rather dull. However, it seemed to be necessary for the second half of the story about the three main characters; Blanche, Claude and The Ritz Hotel in Paris. It still surprises me, after reading so many books that take place during WW2, that I am still learning new things that happened then. I enjoyed the author's embellishment of the lives she invented for what is not historically known about the real life people, Blanche and Claude Auzello. I also agree with her that the historical records of these people that have them taking back their lives after the war and going back to the way things were at The Ritz Hotel like there was no war and living happily ever after just did not make sense. I like Melanie Benjamin's take on the Auzellos and ended up liking the story. #mistressoftheritz #netgalley
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  • Benjamin Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Having read and enjoyed Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture, I was excited to dive into this novel as well. I’ve wanted to learn more about the days of the German occupation of Paris during WWII and to have the setting include the famous Ritz hotel is definitely enticing.The novel revolves around two main characters, Claude and Blanche Auzello, both real-life historical people. Claude is the manager of the Hotel Ritz in Paris while Blanche is his American wife whom he has married after a Having read and enjoyed Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture, I was excited to dive into this novel as well. I’ve wanted to learn more about the days of the German occupation of Paris during WWII and to have the setting include the famous Ritz hotel is definitely enticing.The novel revolves around two main characters, Claude and Blanche Auzello, both real-life historical people. Claude is the manager of the Hotel Ritz in Paris while Blanche is his American wife whom he has married after a short whirlwind romance. Herein lies a major problem I had with the book. The entire first half of the novel is mostly about their rocky relationship. The author jumps back in forth in time, relating the here-and-now of 1940s Paris (in present tense) and then jumping back to the 1920’s during Claude and Blanche’s early years (in past tense). This was a bit jarring to me, switching tenses and time frames constantly. But I could still deal with this OK if it weren’t for the way these two characters were portrayed. Neither one is likable; Claude is the prim and proper Parisian with a mistress on the side and simply can’t understand American women. Blanche seems like a smart lady but does stupid things over and over, even while soaking up as much glamour and glitz as she can. She has a secret which, unfortunately is foreshadowed a bit too heavily, and therefore not a big surprise when the big reveal comes later. Neither one of these two can communicate with the other, and I kept wanting to hit them over the head as I plowed through this book.The second half of the novel starts to pick up the pace as we finally start to get involved with the French underground activities that were promised on the cover blurbs. Even so, this is mostly just talked about, rather than allowing us readers to participate in anything—another disappointment for me. We hear about all of these famous people that stayed or even lived at the Ritz, people like Hemingway, Picasso, Hermann Göring, etc. Only Coco Chanel had any kind of active role and even it was very minor. Rather than utilize these characters it came across as mere name dropping.The final 10% or so of this novel rose to the level I was hoping for in the entire book and is the only reason I am granting three stars instead of two. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. War is Hell, even for those not in battle. It affects everybody and it certainly affects Claude and Blanche. Here, finally, we get the brutal impact of how the occupation impacted this couple, the Hotel Ritz, and, indeed, the city of Paris. The true love story finally comes out. It is a wonderful finale to a mediocre novel. The author can write well and has a proven track record of quality works. But here, as she said in the postscript, she was attempting something a little new for her. Whereas Claude and Blanche were real people, there isn’t much known about them. The author had to fill in a lot of blanks. As she says, rather than writing a book based on real people and events, this one is “inspired” by them. So in the end, this was a frustrating read for me. It holds lots of potential, but most of it remains unrealized.
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  • Jena Henry
    January 1, 1970
    Mistress of the Ritz by bestselling historical fiction author Melanie Benjamin, features four main “characters”. The Mistress herself, Blanche Ross, an exuberant American flapper girl, is married to Monsieur Claude Auzello, the director/manager of the Hotel Ritz, Place Vendome, Paris. The Auzellos were real people and did live in the Ritz and run it, although not much is known about them.The iconic Hotel Ritz, designed and built in 1898 by the equally iconic Cesar Ritz, is the third and perhaps Mistress of the Ritz by bestselling historical fiction author Melanie Benjamin, features four main “characters”. The Mistress herself, Blanche Ross, an exuberant American flapper girl, is married to Monsieur Claude Auzello, the director/manager of the Hotel Ritz, Place Vendome, Paris. The Auzellos were real people and did live in the Ritz and run it, although not much is known about them.The iconic Hotel Ritz, designed and built in 1898 by the equally iconic Cesar Ritz, is the third and perhaps most fascinating character. (Cesar’s partner was also iconic-Auguste Escoffier.) Many well-known and illustrious guests inhabited the elegant rooms and exquisite bars and dining rooms. And the fourth “character” is World War II and the German occupation of Paris, with its Luftwaffe headquarters in the Hotel Ritz. (All true, too.)The story is told in the third person, alternately by Blanche and Claude, beginning in 1923, when they first meet. The debonair Frenchman’s heart “popped” when he beheld Blanche’s youthful beauty and flamboyant American personality. She gave him the nickname, “Popsy”. “Blanchette”, as he calls her, is fond of throwing vases at him- her passion is boundless.The coming World War II, and subsequent German occupation of Paris looms over the story of Blanche and Claude, who it turns out have many secrets. When the Germans march past the Arch of Triumph, will the Auzellos cope, and will they and the Ritz survive? Haunting, compelling, troubling, emotional are all words I would use to describe this book.If we changed the character’s names, the city and the war- we would have the story of “Gone With Wind.” Claude is Ashley, Atlanta is Paris, Tara is the Ritz and perhaps Hemingway can be Rhett. Certainly, Blanche is Scarlett and both women dealt with a major war. (And Scarlett liked to throw vases, too.) We readers love epic stories where seemingly ordinary people are shaped by a profound moment in history. But will Blanche succeed in growing up and finding herself, better than Scarlett did?“As an armchair historian, I've always been drawn to stories from the past, stories that still resonate today—stories we may not know or remember. Untold stories, that explore the hidden corners, the locked closets behind the known historical record. Deeply personal stories, because history only comes alive when we remember that it was made by real people, people just like us. This is why I write novels about these people: Because facts are for the historian, but emotions are the province of the novelist.” Melanie Benjamin, AuthorAuthor Benjamin has made the story of the Ritz, the war and the real people, just like us, come alive in a way that will continue to resonate with me. Readers will feel like they are sitting in the Ritz bar drinking martinis with Blanche. Did Blanche and Claude live happily ever after? Just like Scarlett, we don’t really know what their “tomorrow” brought, but I’m glad their story has been told.Thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and Delacorte Press for a digital review copy. This is my honest review.
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  • Corinne Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    For Claude and Blanche Auzello, the Ritz is more than just the most upscale hotel in Paris, for them, it is home. Claude, as the general manager, works to keep all the balls in the air that require a high end property to stay in top form all hours of the day and Blache, well, is BLANCHE. Boisterous and friendly, she loves her role as the "mistress of the Ritz" until the unfathomable happens and their beloved Paris becomes occupied by Nazi Germany. The Ritz, safe haven that it was, is now full of For Claude and Blanche Auzello, the Ritz is more than just the most upscale hotel in Paris, for them, it is home. Claude, as the general manager, works to keep all the balls in the air that require a high end property to stay in top form all hours of the day and Blache, well, is BLANCHE. Boisterous and friendly, she loves her role as the "mistress of the Ritz" until the unfathomable happens and their beloved Paris becomes occupied by Nazi Germany. The Ritz, safe haven that it was, is now full of occupiers, both soldiers and civilians, demanding and expecting the same level of service. For Blanche and Claude, the stress this causes and the choices they make will determine what remains at the end of a devastating period of time in France's history.I love historical fiction and World War II fiction, and I have read less about France during the war than other countries. There were things about this book that I did enjoy - the setting (and, really, third primary character) of the Ritz was unique and added a different spin to the story. The complicated marriage between Claude and Blanche, while sometimes trope-y and frustrating, also was a look at how war can affect people and relationships. For me, however, it went really slow during the first half, I had a hard time keeping myself engaged, especially because there was a lot of switching back and forth in time that I had to keep making sense of. The last 1/4 went much faster but I really wished I had been able to see more of Blanche's activities instead of just hearing about them after the fact. While this book wasn't a perfect execution, I do think it's an important story about two little-known people doing their best to not just survive but make a difference in their own way.
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    As a travel advisor and book blogger I was looking forward to this story and was pleased that I was allowed the ARC for my honest review.I visited and toured the Ritz Hotel in Paris in August 2016. The hotel had barely just reopened after a major renovation that was nearly stymied by a fire that broke out in January of that year. Ms. Benjamin has captured the true personality of this hallowed hotel, in the pages of her novel based on a true story. The Ritz almost becomes a character itself. She As a travel advisor and book blogger I was looking forward to this story and was pleased that I was allowed the ARC for my honest review.I visited and toured the Ritz Hotel in Paris in August 2016. The hotel had barely just reopened after a major renovation that was nearly stymied by a fire that broke out in January of that year. Ms. Benjamin has captured the true personality of this hallowed hotel, in the pages of her novel based on a true story. The Ritz almost becomes a character itself. She mentions that people felt compelled to dress and act a certain way while at the Ritz and that was still evident when I was there in 2016. I arrived red hot, sweaty, and wearing sneakers. As the doorman summoned the gentleman who was to show me around, I hurriedly slunk off to the bathroom to freshen up and change my shoes! Lordy was that bathroom opulent! Pictures will be posted on my blog after release day.I have always been intrigued by the stories of how the Nazis took over the Ritz during their occupation of Paris in 1940. This story offered an insider's look at what that entailed for the Ritz owners and employees. Ms. Benjamin did a fantastic job weaving the real life, famous guests of the Ritz, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway into story of Claude and Blanche Auzello. I learned so much more about the Paris Occupation and the Resistance going on, right under the noses of the Nazi top brass. Claude & Blanche's love story is fraught with arguments, distrust, and many reconciliations. At the heart they love each other and keep each others secrets and those of the venerable hotel that becomes like their child. #MistressoftheRitz #NetGalley.
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