Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Hotel on Place Verdone: Life, Death, and Betrayal at The Hotel Ritz in Paris

Paris in July - hosted by Thyme for Tea

If you have stayed or eaten at The Ritz, please leave a comment on your experiences 

The very word "Ritz" conjures up visions of elegance, opulence, luxury, decadence, and wealth.  Founded by Cesár Ritz in 1898 it quickly became known as the epitome of the grace, service, comfort of Paris Hotels.  It was among the first hotels to have private bathrooms in suites, telephones and electricity.  The Hotel on Place Verdone:  Life, Death and Betrayal at The Hotel Ritz in Paris, goes into detail about the Early Years of The Ritz but the central focus is on the period from May 10, 1940 when the Germans occupied Paris up to August 8, 1944 when Paris was liberated.  

By the order of Adolf Hitler, The Ritz was the only luxury hotel allowed to remain open.  The Luftwaffe  made The Ritz their French headquarters, Herman Goering maintained a Suite there as did numerous other high ranking German officers.  As a side effect, this meant the hotel restaurant was not subject to war time shortages.  Famously Coco Chanel lived there during the war and had an affair with a German count.  Chanel was probably being used as a possible source of intelligence.  Ernest Hemingway also stated there at times.  Lots of intrigue.  We also see the impact of staff shortages caused by the war.

Mazzeo details all the intrigues, deceptions, treachery and romances of the war years at the Ritz.  We get to vicariously enjoy the amazing suites, the impeccable service, the five star food while we wonder who the other guests think we may be. Of course we must stop in Coco Chanel's boutique.   Marcel Proust also had a suite there, for a mere 3000 Euros you can spend the night these just as they were rooms.  If you want something a bit better, The Coco Chanel Suite, July seven is available, is a trifle more at 25,000 Euros.

The hotel was sold to an Egyptian business man in 1979.  It is still considered one of the great hotels of the world.  

I enjoyed this book a lot.  Amazon reviews are very mixed.  I do recommend this book for anyone who has ever dreamed of Paris and "Putting on the Ritz".  

Dr. Mazzeo is the Clara C. Piper Associate Professor of English at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. She is the author of numerous works of narrative nonfiction, and several of her books have been New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestsellers.  She divides her time among coastal Maine, New York City, and Saanichton, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband at Parsell Vineyard.  - from the author's website

Mel u


Suko said...

Mel, I'm glad that you enjoyed this book. Thanks for an interesting and informative post.

Mystica said...

I read another book on the same period and again about Chanel and the spy network that existed in the hotel. This sounds equally interesting.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'd love to visit there. Probably best for me to visit through this book, however. Thank you!

Nadia said...

I'm so glad you posted about this book - I think its so cool to visit the Ritz this way :) I remember Hemingway stayed there some times. I didn't know about Coco Chanel. Definitely a great post!

Lisbeth said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I would love to visit and maybe have dinner there. I do not fancy high room prices like they have.