Mistress of the Ritz

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...

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Title:Mistress of the Ritz
Author:Melanie Benjamin
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Edition Language:English

Mistress of the Ritz Reviews

  • Jonah ❤️LIBROCUBICULARIST❤️

    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

    somewhere - either in a novel or article - and I wanted to know more about her.

    – 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

    somewhere - either in a novel or article - and I wanted to know more about her.

    – 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

    ran the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris while she has been dubbed as the

    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

    – “I liberated Paris!”

    Recommended to those voracious readers of the World War II!

  • Barb

    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.

  • Liz

    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.

  • Laurie's Lit Picks

    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.

  • The Just-About-Cocky Ms M

    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.

  • Theresa Alan

    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

  • Tammy

    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.

  • Judy

    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 job

    Benjamin'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 job

    Benjamin'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.

  • Susan Johnson

    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.

  • Maine Colonial

    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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