Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin is the story of Claude and Blanche Auzello, the French manager of the Ritz Paris and his American wife during the WWII nazi occupation of Paris.
I appreciated Benjamin’s Author Notes at the end of the story, clarifying what of the book is historically factual and what is her work of fiction. It seems facts of events and timelines are fairly well documented, but little is known about these two personally. She does a wonderful job of filling in the blanks, creating a very real, very believable couple. I immediately formed images of them both, complete with habits, mannerisms, strengths, and weaknesses.
I have to admit the lies, secrets, and shocking reveals through out the book were not much of a surprise, fairly easy to figure out early on – but this took nothing away from the story or experience. Ok, one item took me by surprise – without giving spoilers, some of the Nazi soldiers staying at the hotel had a secret plan of their own!
Many folks are familiar with the shenanigans of Coco Chanel at the Ritz during WWII, but I enjoyed reading and learning about the amazing woman Blanche Auzello, the Mistress of the Ritz. Recommend for anyone wanting a different view of Paris during WWII.