This is a must-read across the board, but especially for history enthusiasts. It’s one of those topics that everyone has vaguely heard of but when you start delving into the details that you realize just how entangled and incredibly interesting it is.
The Hôtel Ritz was always *the* place in Paris. Once the Nazi Occupation of Paris began the summer of 1940, the value of that address skyrocketed — for both sides.
Only here, in the public spaces of the Hôtel Ritz, could the silent combatants of occupied Paris come together under the guise of neutrality. Here, the façade at least was unchanged and glittering. As Josée de Chambrun, the titled daughter of a leading French collaborator, remembered of the parties during those years in Paris, “Champagne flowed, and the German officers, dressed in white tie and splendid uniforms, spoke only French. Social life had returned with friends and our new guests, the Germans.” In the dining room and bars at the Ritz, it happened nightly. ~Loc. 468
The bartender was a messenger. German officers hatched the plans for Operation Valkyrie in the Ritz. It’s famed residents, including Coco Chanel and Marlene Dietrich, colluded with the occupying forces (some say for survival only). Allied airmen who parachuted into Paris were hidden in the Ritz — sometimes with and without the knowledge of the staff. Certainly we will never know all of what went on during those four years (just look at the painting just discovered in Chanel’s suite) but this book is a good start.
Many thanks to HarperCollins for the e-galley.
On Sale: 3/11/2014
Trimsize: 6 x 9
Pages: 320; $26.99
Ages: 18 and Up