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Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, the captivating history of Paris's world-famous Hôtel Ritz-a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance-from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5 Established in 1898 in the heart of Paris on Place Ve Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, the captivating history of Paris's world-famous Hôtel Ritz-a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance-from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5 Established in 1898 in the heart of Paris on Place Vendôme, the Hôtel Ritz instantly became an icon of the city frequented by film stars and celebrity writers, American heiresses and risqué flappers, politicians, playboys, and princes. When France fell to the Germans in June 1940, it was the only luxury hotel of its kind allowed in the occupied city by order of Adolf Hitler. Tilar J. Mazzeo traces the history of this cultural landmark from its opening in fin de siècle Paris. At its center, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is an extraordinary chronicle of life at the Ritz during wartime, when the Hôtel was simultaneously headquarters to the highest-ranking German officers, such as Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, and home to exclusive patrons, including Coco Chanel. Mazzeo takes us into the grand palace's suites, bars, dining rooms, and wine cellars, revealing a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery, where refugees were hidden in secret rooms, a Jewish bartender passed coded messages for the German resistance, and Wehrmacht officers plotted to assassinate the Führer. Yet, as she makes clear, not everyone at the Ritz in the spring of 1940 would survive to the war's end. Rich in detail, illustrated with black-and-white photos, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is a remarkable look at this extraordinary place and the people and events that made it legend; the crucible where the future of post-war France-and all of post-war Europe-was transformed.


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Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, the captivating history of Paris's world-famous Hôtel Ritz-a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance-from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5 Established in 1898 in the heart of Paris on Place Ve Set against the backdrop of the Nazi occupation of World War II, the captivating history of Paris's world-famous Hôtel Ritz-a breathtaking tale of glamour, opulence, and celebrity; dangerous liaisons, espionage, and resistance-from the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot and The Secret of Chanel No. 5 Established in 1898 in the heart of Paris on Place Vendôme, the Hôtel Ritz instantly became an icon of the city frequented by film stars and celebrity writers, American heiresses and risqué flappers, politicians, playboys, and princes. When France fell to the Germans in June 1940, it was the only luxury hotel of its kind allowed in the occupied city by order of Adolf Hitler. Tilar J. Mazzeo traces the history of this cultural landmark from its opening in fin de siècle Paris. At its center, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is an extraordinary chronicle of life at the Ritz during wartime, when the Hôtel was simultaneously headquarters to the highest-ranking German officers, such as Reichsmarshal Hermann Göring, and home to exclusive patrons, including Coco Chanel. Mazzeo takes us into the grand palace's suites, bars, dining rooms, and wine cellars, revealing a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery, where refugees were hidden in secret rooms, a Jewish bartender passed coded messages for the German resistance, and Wehrmacht officers plotted to assassinate the Führer. Yet, as she makes clear, not everyone at the Ritz in the spring of 1940 would survive to the war's end. Rich in detail, illustrated with black-and-white photos, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is a remarkable look at this extraordinary place and the people and events that made it legend; the crucible where the future of post-war France-and all of post-war Europe-was transformed.

30 review for The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Such an interesting, well researched book on the many human players that passed in and out of this Hotel. The main years covered in this book are 1941-1945, though the author does go back to the opening of the hotel, just not as extensively. Marcel Prost, Hemingway and his wife Martha Gelhorn, Fitzgerald, the Dreyfus affair which changed the direction of the hotel, German officers, war correspondents hoping to get a scoop, royalty, Churchill, so many others, either stayed, visited or lived h 3.5 Such an interesting, well researched book on the many human players that passed in and out of this Hotel. The main years covered in this book are 1941-1945, though the author does go back to the opening of the hotel, just not as extensively. Marcel Prost, Hemingway and his wife Martha Gelhorn, Fitzgerald, the Dreyfus affair which changed the direction of the hotel, German officers, war correspondents hoping to get a scoop, royalty, Churchill, so many others, either stayed, visited or lived here. Some fascinating facts such as Coco Channel who made a fortune selling her perfume to German officers. Goring, who had a morphine habit tried to kick the habit by bathing constantly. This is a very human view of history, with the hotel as a background. Easy to read, wonderful chapter layout each headed by a picture and quote. It also includes, which was much appreciated, extensive bibliographic notes. There is so much contained in this less than 300 page offering, I found it all fascinating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob Anderson

    I had to decide how much I could trust a book that contains statements like “Ernest Hemingway, mentally ill and hopelessly alcoholic, shot himself to death in Key West in 1961, after years of wavering.” That makes me wonder if the author actually read the sources that she listed. Hemingway committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho. There were annoying editing errors such as this one from pages 170 – 171 “By mid-July, the Vichy government was rounding up Jewish foreigners beginning to round up Jewish fo I had to decide how much I could trust a book that contains statements like “Ernest Hemingway, mentally ill and hopelessly alcoholic, shot himself to death in Key West in 1961, after years of wavering.” That makes me wonder if the author actually read the sources that she listed. Hemingway committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho. There were annoying editing errors such as this one from pages 170 – 171 “By mid-July, the Vichy government was rounding up Jewish foreigners beginning to round up Jewish foreigners systematically in the capital, using stadia as makeshift internment camps.” To me there was no logical flow to the book just a lot of pieces thrown together haphazardly.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Subtitled, “Life, Death and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris,” this book begins with the 1940 Occupation of Paris by the Nazi’s, before backtracking to the Ritz opening in 1898. Paris in 1898 was split by the scandal known as the Dreyfus Affair, which divided the aristocracy from the traditionalists of the Belle-Epoque and the new, upcoming artists and intellectuals. The author uses Marcel Proust as an example of one of the new modern supporters of Dreyfus, who claimed the Ritz as their home Subtitled, “Life, Death and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris,” this book begins with the 1940 Occupation of Paris by the Nazi’s, before backtracking to the Ritz opening in 1898. Paris in 1898 was split by the scandal known as the Dreyfus Affair, which divided the aristocracy from the traditionalists of the Belle-Epoque and the new, upcoming artists and intellectuals. The author uses Marcel Proust as an example of one of the new modern supporters of Dreyfus, who claimed the Ritz as their home – artists, intellectuals and outcasts. Proust is again identified during a chapter set during WWI, to show how the war was largely ignored in the Ritz. However, most of this book is set before and after the Second World War, by which time Proust had died and this kind of thread is one which weakens the book in my opinion, by not carrying throughout the storyline. The author sets the scene of the occupation of Paris well. The elderly Marie-Louise Ritz, widow of the founder Cesar Ritz, had to make the decision of whether or not to keep the hotel open, with only a skeleton staff remaining as most people fled Paris as the German army advanced. Warned that the building might be requisitioned and that she may never get it back, she decided to take advice to stay open, with the help of her Swiss Director, Claude Aurcello. Indeed, The Ritz remained, “a Switzerland in Paris,” throughout the war. The fact that it consisted of two separate buildings, connected by a long corridor, meant that there was a natural partition between the German high-ranking officers and the smaller building, which remained open to the public; including artists, writers, film stars, playwrights, fashion designers and a smattering of spies. There were no uniforms or weapons in public spaces and the French and Germans mixed amicably – often neutrality crossed the line into collaboration. Although we read of those involved, such as Goering, Coco Chanel, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor or Laura Mae Corrigan, wealthy widow of an American industrialist, too often their story seems to stop during the Occupation. The author backtracks sometimes with the potted history of Chanel during the war years, or tells us briefly the story of Corrigan, but often they are fleeting glimpses. The detail is mainly before the Occupation and after it. The book really comes into its own after the Occupation, with the American press racing to Paris to cover the liberation. Ernest Hemingway, Robert Capa, Marlene Dietrich and Ingrid Bergman all arrived as the Germans fled the city. There was mob justice for many who had seen as collaborating with the Germans, and the realisation by many who had lived the war in comfort at the Ritz that there would be a reckoning for a war spent in luxury. This is a tale of plotting, love affairs, betrayals and espionage, which I really enjoyed. However, I did somehow feel that there was another story within this book, which was never really told and that was the story of the Ritz during the war. I would have liked at least one chapter for each year of the occupation, documenting all the interesting stories which I felt were so briefly touched upon. The bartender who was only one member of the staff involved in espionage, for example, or refugees who were hidden in the rooms under the very noses of the German high command. Or even how Parisians felt about those who lived in such close proximity with the enemy, while they suffered oppression and shortages of food and fuel. In other words, this was something of a missed opportunity for me – a good book, which could have been great. Still a good read though, especially if you are interested in the liberation of Paris and the aftermath of war there. Rated 3.5

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    It never fails to amaze me how historians can take interesting material and turn it into something positively banal. The woman who is mentioned in the introduction--the widow who says Mazzeo shouldn't write this book? She was right. Not because this story shouldn't be told, but it should have been told by someone who can organize her material and make it a flowing story. Skip this one. It never fails to amaze me how historians can take interesting material and turn it into something positively banal. The woman who is mentioned in the introduction--the widow who says Mazzeo shouldn't write this book? She was right. Not because this story shouldn't be told, but it should have been told by someone who can organize her material and make it a flowing story. Skip this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    This entertaining history of the Paris Hôtel Ritz is told through stories of the many people who lived, worked, loved, drank, argued, and partied there, starting in La Belle Époque with hotel’s 1898 opening while the Dreyfus affair was polarizing French aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals. Soon the then unknown Marcel Proust became one of the regulars, gathering inspiration from the hotel’s patrons and staff for what would become his literary opus. The Ritz was a new style of luxury hotel bu This entertaining history of the Paris Hôtel Ritz is told through stories of the many people who lived, worked, loved, drank, argued, and partied there, starting in La Belle Époque with hotel’s 1898 opening while the Dreyfus affair was polarizing French aristocrats, artists, and intellectuals. Soon the then unknown Marcel Proust became one of the regulars, gathering inspiration from the hotel’s patrons and staff for what would become his literary opus. The Ritz was a new style of luxury hotel but Oscar Wilde hated it because he found it all so very modern and jarring. The elevators were too fast, the electric lights too bright, and Wilde much preferred calling for a removable basin to having indoor plumbing with a permanent sink in his suite. Though the book’s tales continue even past the time Princess Diana slipped out of one of the hotel’s back doors hoping to avoid the paparazzi shortly before their pursuit helped cause her death, the book’s focus is on life in the WWII era with all its bizarre contradictions and complications during the Nazi occupation and then liberation of Paris. Joseph Goebbels gave the order that Paris should be happy and gay--or else--so parties were held, plays were produced and love affairs were conducted even as some citizens were disappearing off the streets never to be seen again and the French Underground was working covertly to oust the invaders. Aristocrats, philosophers, journalists, artists, authors, spies, German commanders, and members of the French Resistance all mingled at the Ritz which gives this book plenty of sometimes shocking anecdotes, all delivered in a chatty style but backed up by pages of reference notes. Hemingway who planned to liberate the Ritz without the help of the military, Coco Chanel who had a German lover, and Sartre, Cocteau, Wallis Simpson, and Hermann Wilhelm Göring are among the many notables who make appearances in this book. With just 238 pages of text this is a fast, fascinating read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    Review first published on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... (This review is abridged and edited for GoodReads.) If you are looking at this book, please don't be misguided by the cover and the publisher's blurb - the book does reveal a great deal on Paris during the German occupation but it does not exclusively focus on the personalities of Nazi generals. Rather it is the story of hotel Ritz from its first opening to its present day - but it is told using the stories of the people Review first published on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/... (This review is abridged and edited for GoodReads.) If you are looking at this book, please don't be misguided by the cover and the publisher's blurb - the book does reveal a great deal on Paris during the German occupation but it does not exclusively focus on the personalities of Nazi generals. Rather it is the story of hotel Ritz from its first opening to its present day - but it is told using the stories of the people who used to live, visit, dine, and run the hotel. It is a good story made even more remarkable by well researched insights into the Ritz family, Marcel Proust, the Dreyfusards, Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, Georges Mandel, Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Capa, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, ... and a whole band of other personalities. Of course, as promised by the dust jacket blurb, there is abundant information on the German occupation of Paris but the book also describes the sheer incredible situation of where employees of the hotel would use their position to pass information to the resistance or organise false passports. What surprised me most about the book was that it was written in an engaging style where each chapter dealt with a different pairing or grouping of people to tell a story, but chapter by chapter, the stories interlinked. It is really clever writing. And I guess, it is this that made it difficult for me to put the book down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    Why would anyone waste their time doing historical research just to come up with this gossipy trash? And why would I want to read it? Unbearable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I approached this book as a history of the Ritz Hotel during the Occupation of Paris....instead I found that it was basically a book of gossip about who was sleeping with whom. The author does touch on some of the spying and intrigues that were centered in the famous luxury hotel but much of it almost looks like speculation instead of verifiable fact. The narrative is full of errors....such as the use of transistor radios (which weren't even invented at that point) and dropping in statements su I approached this book as a history of the Ritz Hotel during the Occupation of Paris....instead I found that it was basically a book of gossip about who was sleeping with whom. The author does touch on some of the spying and intrigues that were centered in the famous luxury hotel but much of it almost looks like speculation instead of verifiable fact. The narrative is full of errors....such as the use of transistor radios (which weren't even invented at that point) and dropping in statements such as "The Duchess of Windsor .......during her affair with Joachim von Ribbentrop....". She either needed another editor or needed to check her facts a little more carefully. I probably should have given it a lower grade but some of the information was interesting since it did describe the relationships between the French and the Nazis during the Occupation. Disappointing read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz Waters

    If the walls of Hôtel Ritz on Place Vendôme in Paris could talk, this book is pretty much what they would say. And, what fantastic stories are to be told! From its origins in the 19th century, the famous and infamous have lived history within this venerable hotel. No time period of this history within its walls is more fascinating than the 1930’s and 1940’s This was a time when the avant-garde of the arts mingled with nobility and with the effete hangers-on that any noble gathering attract. When If the walls of Hôtel Ritz on Place Vendôme in Paris could talk, this book is pretty much what they would say. And, what fantastic stories are to be told! From its origins in the 19th century, the famous and infamous have lived history within this venerable hotel. No time period of this history within its walls is more fascinating than the 1930’s and 1940’s This was a time when the avant-garde of the arts mingled with nobility and with the effete hangers-on that any noble gathering attract. When France fell to Nazi oppression, the noble gave way to the ignoble and the hotel suffered a dark period. That was relieved in a most raucous manner when the Allies returned France to French rule and routed the Nazis. And while the character of the clientele changed, the consistent luxurious ambience continued. This book draws on recently declassified material as well as scrupulous research to tell the tale. It is fascinating to read how the character of the hotel was maintained on the surface while Jewish people and downed airmen were smuggled about and hidden, while plots were hatched, secrets shared and many a marriage compromised. Fascinating tales of people with names that are household words today abound in its pages. The postwar decline of the Hôtel Ritz was surely inevitable, and it fell into disrepair and potential bankruptcy until rescued by Mohamed Al Fayed, who spared no expense in restoring the hotel to it former glory. But tragedy came quickly on the wake of the restoration when Fayed’s son and Princess Diana left the hotel and were driven to their death in Paris by harassing paparazzi. Once again, the Ritz was in the center of international events. At the book’s conclusion, reference is made to another restoration now underway, and one hopes the history will continue. This is a wonderful book full of wonderful characters who march and meander through its pages as they once did through the halls of Hôtel Ritz on Place Vendôme.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

    This book purports to be a work of history. It is full of mistakes, inaccuracies and speculation. One of the most obvious is that Hemingway did not kill himself in Key West as everyone --save the author and the editor --knows. Daghilev was not a dancer. The dates and facts are wrong and on and on... The most galling is the chapter which is a recounting of my father's heroic acts during the Liberation. So I know how wrong it is. One would have thought that this writer would have had the good sens This book purports to be a work of history. It is full of mistakes, inaccuracies and speculation. One of the most obvious is that Hemingway did not kill himself in Key West as everyone --save the author and the editor --knows. Daghilev was not a dancer. The dates and facts are wrong and on and on... The most galling is the chapter which is a recounting of my father's heroic acts during the Liberation. So I know how wrong it is. One would have thought that this writer would have had the good sense to contact the archives and/or the family and even to get the list of historical records correct. This is an entertaining gossip novel but a tragic impostor as a history book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bob H

    This is the Hotel Ritz, the pinnacle of luxury in Paris, and it's the story of the high society that lived, partied, schemed there from the Dreyfus Affair through the tumultuous 20th Century in Paris, through war and occupation. A hotel of this grandeur would attract the most famous, the most rich, the most colorful personalities -- Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Coco Chanel, Elsa Maxwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; movie stars like Marlene Dietrich, Arletty and Ingrid B This is the Hotel Ritz, the pinnacle of luxury in Paris, and it's the story of the high society that lived, partied, schemed there from the Dreyfus Affair through the tumultuous 20th Century in Paris, through war and occupation. A hotel of this grandeur would attract the most famous, the most rich, the most colorful personalities -- Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Coco Chanel, Elsa Maxwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; movie stars like Marlene Dietrich, Arletty and Ingrid Bergman; wartime generals as diverse as James Gavin and Hermann Goering; hard-partying war correspondents like Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa. Much of the book concerns the Nazi occupation, and while the partying continued in the bar and penthouse suites, we find intrigue: looted art, French resistance members among the staff, German resistance members among the guests, plotting -- and interacting. We learn more about the sexual relationships -- the "horizontal collaboration" -- between occupiers and resident celebrities like Arletty. We learn more about the intrigues of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor -- Edward and Mrs. Simpson -- who apparently plotted before, during and after the war to displace Princess Elizabeth and resume the British throne. We learn more about the wild partying that came in with Hemingway and Capa during the Liberation. And we learn what happened to the hotel once society and the party moved away to Hollywood and New York. It's a vivid, well-written, racy and unforgettable history of a truly grand hotel. Highest recommendation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy Plum

    A fascinating account of Paris and its glitterati in the first half of the 20th century, made even more interesting by basing all of their stories around the grand Paris institution: the Hotel Ritz. I heard the author speak about the book at the American Library of Paris, and she described how hard it was to peg some people as "good guys" or "bad guys" because of all of the double-agents and undercover work. Still, you come away from this book thinking, "Is there any good left in the world?" Tha A fascinating account of Paris and its glitterati in the first half of the 20th century, made even more interesting by basing all of their stories around the grand Paris institution: the Hotel Ritz. I heard the author speak about the book at the American Library of Paris, and she described how hard it was to peg some people as "good guys" or "bad guys" because of all of the double-agents and undercover work. Still, you come away from this book thinking, "Is there any good left in the world?" That, with few exceptions, humankind is basically individuals all out for themselves. The book fed my Occupied Paris obsession, and added a whole host of new characters to those I already knew.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    What a disappointment this book was. I have read another book by the author on Coco Chanel and that was superb, so I was hoping that this current one would be up to the same standards. Nope. It's very gossipy and you feel as if you are reading a tabloid. Tilar J. Mazzeo writes about everyone that stayed at the Hotel Ritz in Paris when France was involved in wars. No character is fully fleshed out and some are just mentioned in one sentence. I stopped reading after four chapters. What a disappointment this book was. I have read another book by the author on Coco Chanel and that was superb, so I was hoping that this current one would be up to the same standards. Nope. It's very gossipy and you feel as if you are reading a tabloid. Tilar J. Mazzeo writes about everyone that stayed at the Hotel Ritz in Paris when France was involved in wars. No character is fully fleshed out and some are just mentioned in one sentence. I stopped reading after four chapters.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    This was a pretty interesting book, although the pacing was a bit slow and I felt that the author skipped around a lot chronologically speaking which made it hard to keep track of what was going on. But it was fun learning about the Ritz hotel and the patrons during WW2 (Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, etc.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    This book is frustrating because it could have been so much more than it is. Mazzeo’s book advertises itself as a wartime history of a famous, very posh, in France during World War II. In the introduction (which is really one of two introductions), Mazzeo even makes a connection to the modern EU. The problem is that the book really doesn’t do what the introductions claim it is going to deliver. The soap opera aspects are present. Most of them, however, involved Hemingway, and if you already know This book is frustrating because it could have been so much more than it is. Mazzeo’s book advertises itself as a wartime history of a famous, very posh, in France during World War II. In the introduction (which is really one of two introductions), Mazzeo even makes a connection to the modern EU. The problem is that the book really doesn’t do what the introductions claim it is going to deliver. The soap opera aspects are present. Most of them, however, involved Hemingway, and if you already know anything about Hemingway, it is really new information. He just looks doucheier. But most of the hanky panky is Hemingway hanky panky. It’s a soap opera you know, and the setting isn’t there. In other words, if you going to go old Hotel, it helps to make the hotel live. Honesty, there is no real description of the hotel, no sense of the place. There are no photos. Further, more interesting stories than those involving Hemingway are abandoned or given less space. The story of manager’s wife and others’ activities in the French Resistance could have been more developed. In fact, the lives of those working at the Hotel could have more developed. There is the story of the American Angel, but the post war aspect of her story is hinted at, though never returned to (as is the EU connection). This doesn’t mean the book is all bad. The writing in terms of style is energetic, making the book a quick read. Mazzeo’s description of photo journalist Bob Capa makes one want to read a biography of that man. Despite these good aspects, the book is disappointing because a reader can see how much better it could have been.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    This is one of the easiest historical reads you are likely to experience. The prose flows like water, the characters are given just enough detail to be fascinating without an overload of info-dumping, and it manages to jump around in a very lyrical fashion between all the various situations facing World War II Paris. But in the end, I'm puzzled if this lovely book actually lives up to its title and description. Yes, there's a great deal going on at the Ritz, but it takes a very early back seat, This is one of the easiest historical reads you are likely to experience. The prose flows like water, the characters are given just enough detail to be fascinating without an overload of info-dumping, and it manages to jump around in a very lyrical fashion between all the various situations facing World War II Paris. But in the end, I'm puzzled if this lovely book actually lives up to its title and description. Yes, there's a great deal going on at the Ritz, but it takes a very early back seat, and it's much more interested in the people who come and go. Strangely enough, the stated topic of this (still wonderful) book becomes nothing more than fancy window dressing. But window dressing that is, at the very least, worthy of the Ritz's quality.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    It might be a little cruel, but I wish Mazzeo had heeded the advice given not to write this book, or at least perhaps should have hired a better editor. There is a good story here, but it was (in my opinion, for what it is worth) not as well presented as it could have been. It had the feel of a rushed effort. Repetitive. I felt that it was a three-chapter story and the author was told, "why not make this a book." Now, there is a lot of material here I was unfamiliar with, and that was good, and It might be a little cruel, but I wish Mazzeo had heeded the advice given not to write this book, or at least perhaps should have hired a better editor. There is a good story here, but it was (in my opinion, for what it is worth) not as well presented as it could have been. It had the feel of a rushed effort. Repetitive. I felt that it was a three-chapter story and the author was told, "why not make this a book." Now, there is a lot of material here I was unfamiliar with, and that was good, and the author did seem to have done some good (though occasionally inaccurate) research, but I was not impressed in the end. Another pet peeve is writers who insist on using complete names after the first time it is presented. Surely we know who Hemingway, Picasso, Chanel, and others are.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    This is a fairly interesting book. I would have liked to learn more about the individuals that lived at the hotel and the founders. It's quite well researched but is not completely engaging. This is a fairly interesting book. I would have liked to learn more about the individuals that lived at the hotel and the founders. It's quite well researched but is not completely engaging.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    All my stays at The Ritz in Paris have been opulent, luxurious, sumptuous, indulgent and totally imaginary. Thus it was good to read this book to see the role this lodging played in the cultural and political history of Paris. The bulk of the book deals with the period of WWII and the German occupation. It would have rated five stars expect for two things: the author's style is a bit clunky in places AND the author's EGREGIOUS ERROR on p.231 stating that Hemingway killed himself in Key West! Eve All my stays at The Ritz in Paris have been opulent, luxurious, sumptuous, indulgent and totally imaginary. Thus it was good to read this book to see the role this lodging played in the cultural and political history of Paris. The bulk of the book deals with the period of WWII and the German occupation. It would have rated five stars expect for two things: the author's style is a bit clunky in places AND the author's EGREGIOUS ERROR on p.231 stating that Hemingway killed himself in Key West! Even though it is a borrowed book (sorry, Jan!) I had to pencil in the correct site, Ketchum, Idaho. Yes, the author has been notified! Other than those two points, the book is very readable and gives a vivid insight into the lives of those whose collaborationist actions we may have forgotten, like Coco Chanel, Jean Cocteau, etc. I highly recommend this read to lovers of Paris, history and a good story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Len

    LOVED this one. A never-boring history of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, home or host at varying times to Winston Churchill, Hermann Goring, Coco Chanel, Ingrid Bergman, Marcel Proust, Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich and Princess Diana, among so many others. German occupiers, spying bartenders, collaborating fashion icons, sex romps, champagne-fuelled all night parties, hidden rooms and closets, torrid affairs, and the creation of art, music and literature - it is astonishing just how much history has tak LOVED this one. A never-boring history of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, home or host at varying times to Winston Churchill, Hermann Goring, Coco Chanel, Ingrid Bergman, Marcel Proust, Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich and Princess Diana, among so many others. German occupiers, spying bartenders, collaborating fashion icons, sex romps, champagne-fuelled all night parties, hidden rooms and closets, torrid affairs, and the creation of art, music and literature - it is astonishing just how much history has taken place beyond the doors of the Ritz - brings to mind the expression 'if these walls could talk', for sure!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caren

    Written by American historian, Tilar Mazzeo, the exploration of this iconic hotel’s history began with its opening at the time of the Dreyfus trial in Paris of 1898. Mazzeo’s main interest, however, centred on the years of Paris’s occupation during WWII and the Hotel Ritz as “the mirror of Paris” from 1940 to 1945. The hotel itself was the main character in the text, the backdrop to the intrigue, liaisons, political and personal alliances of the Nazi officials who resided there during the occupa Written by American historian, Tilar Mazzeo, the exploration of this iconic hotel’s history began with its opening at the time of the Dreyfus trial in Paris of 1898. Mazzeo’s main interest, however, centred on the years of Paris’s occupation during WWII and the Hotel Ritz as “the mirror of Paris” from 1940 to 1945. The hotel itself was the main character in the text, the backdrop to the intrigue, liaisons, political and personal alliances of the Nazi officials who resided there during the occupation and of the celebrated artists, writers and wealthy patrons who moved back to the hotel after the liberation of the “city of light.” What both fascinated and disgusted me was that at no time during either of these periods – wartime or post-war – had the champagne stopped flowing or the excesses of the powerful and/or wealthy been abandoned. Unfortunately, the history was presented more like a novel, the research (notes and bibliography of 40 pages+) used more as a gossip sheet featuring the quirky predilections of the Nazi officers and, post-war, the sexual accounts of who had slept with whom. Particularly, Mazzeo portrayed the decadence of patrons such as Nazi Hermann Goring, Fashionista Coco Chanel and, in greatest detail, the excesses of alcohol and women of Ernest Hemingway. I would have preferred an intense historical record that examined more closely the collaborations and resistance activities of those at the hotel. Also, structurally, Mazzeo jumped back and forth during the war years, when a more chronological sequence may have been warranted. What I did find intriguing, however, was the problematic relationship that had developed between France and Britain, between de Gaulle and Churchill, and the impact this had on the years after the war.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Peppy

    I enjoyed the book. However, I was disappointed by the lack of editing and fact checking. One error that blatantly stands out is Hemingway's suicide. Mazzeo wrote that his suicide took place in Key West which is incorrect. The suicide took place at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. The name of the Swiss born deputy manager of the Ritz is incorrectly spelled as Hans Franz Elminger rather than Hans Franz Elmiger. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not sent off to Bermuda. They were relocated to Nassau I enjoyed the book. However, I was disappointed by the lack of editing and fact checking. One error that blatantly stands out is Hemingway's suicide. Mazzeo wrote that his suicide took place in Key West which is incorrect. The suicide took place at his home in Ketchum, Idaho. The name of the Swiss born deputy manager of the Ritz is incorrectly spelled as Hans Franz Elminger rather than Hans Franz Elmiger. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were not sent off to Bermuda. They were relocated to Nassau where the Duke served as the Governor General of the Bahamas for the balance of the war. Nevertheless, the stories concerning the list of characters were quite entertaining.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bethayn

    This book has excellent information. Unfortunately it is presented in a disjointed way. Because there are so many people involved in the history, it is very difficult to keep track of the who did what, where and when. I am not saying that I could have written it any better, because I know that I could not. But, I feel like there must be a better way to organize this really cool information.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This was a really great read. I've always found hotels to be very interesting places; so many different people coming and going, and Tilar Mazzeo's recounting of the guests and their escapades at the Hotel Ritz in Paris during the Nazi occupation was fascinating. I had no idea so many legendary figures all kept each other company during the war. This was a really great read. I've always found hotels to be very interesting places; so many different people coming and going, and Tilar Mazzeo's recounting of the guests and their escapades at the Hotel Ritz in Paris during the Nazi occupation was fascinating. I had no idea so many legendary figures all kept each other company during the war.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Char Freund

    Book club selection. I like history but the writing style seemed like a research paper and distracted from the plot. Interesting that my engineer husband also read it and would give it a 4/5.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Overmoyer

    There were things I loved about The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris and there were things I didn't love so much at all. Let's start with what I loved. The honed in view of one of the most famous hotels in the world during such an important time in history was an excellent idea for a book. The period in Europe from the Dreyfus Affair through the post-World War II years is fascinating. It's more so when you've got a select place and a select group o There were things I loved about The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris and there were things I didn't love so much at all. Let's start with what I loved. The honed in view of one of the most famous hotels in the world during such an important time in history was an excellent idea for a book. The period in Europe from the Dreyfus Affair through the post-World War II years is fascinating. It's more so when you've got a select place and a select group of people to focus on. Tilar J. Mazzeo focused mainly on Coco Chanel (who I learned - to my general shock, dismay, and awkward delight - was a very much anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi when need be, pro-Allies when need be, self-preserving woman ... exactly what one might expect, I suppose) and Ernest Hemingway (who I learned - to very little surprise - was exactly what I expected; a pompous, self-important, womanizer). It's the few lesser known people Mazzeo chronicles; Blanche Auzello and Laura Mae Corrigan primarily, that make the book worth reading. They and a few others like them are the definition of what the book's title promises and it's a shame more pages weren't dedicated to them. But then, I suppose Chanel and Hemingway make better marketing strategies. I won't say more about Auzello and Corrigan here because their stories are worth reading and I think there's a good chance you'll enjoy reading them if this is your sort of book. And now for what I didn't love so much. Mazzeo said in her introduction that the widow of a man who fought with the French Resistance, a very well to-do man, warned her not to write the book. The woman told the author that it was too easy to claim one had been part of the Resistance just because it was the popular thing to do. That declaration set up my expectations for an exciting tale of life, death, and betrayal - as the title promised. I was sorely disappointed on that front. Yes, people lived in the Hotel Ritz during World War II and the decades preceding it. Yes, the rich who could afford to live there betrayed each other whenever they could, but they rarely seem to have betrayed their country - especially given that many of them were either Americans like Hemingway or Germans like Goerring. And I'm sure people died there, but none of the people Mazzeo focused on. Not a one. It seems like a silly thing to complain about, but it's true. I don't regret spending the time and energy to read this book. I learned a lot from it. The trouble came when I was getting from one thing I learned to another. It wasn't always easy. I'm keeping the book, though, and I'm telling you that you ought to consider reading it. That being said, I don't know when I'd be inclined to re-read it. (I received a copy of The Hotel on Place Vendome as part of the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program.) (This review will be cross-posted on my blog and on my Goodreads account.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    In the 'Acknowledgments' section, the author writes a thank you to her "much-loved husband...for believing in narrative arcs..." And that's exactly the problem for me with this book, as there is no overall narrative arc. In the 'Prologue', the author tells us that she was warned: "This book about the Hotel Ritz...you should not write it." So I'm left wondering if there was this fabulous story so scandalous that someone, somewhere denied the publication the author originally submitted. The centra In the 'Acknowledgments' section, the author writes a thank you to her "much-loved husband...for believing in narrative arcs..." And that's exactly the problem for me with this book, as there is no overall narrative arc. In the 'Prologue', the author tells us that she was warned: "This book about the Hotel Ritz...you should not write it." So I'm left wondering if there was this fabulous story so scandalous that someone, somewhere denied the publication the author originally submitted. The central character of this book is the Ritz Hotel, but there isn't even an old or new picture of this place except for a close-up of the entry. The author tells us early that this hotel was originally designed with no lobby so that regular folks couldn't hang out and gawk, but then late in the book we read that "The lobby of the Hotel Ritz was quiet." Perhaps during a remodel or expansion, a lobby was added, but I don't know. The author offers us tidbits about hidden rooms and secret staircases, but again no pictures, not even a rough drawing of these mysterious areas. On the other hand, there are some great stories scattered throughout this book including ones about Coco Chanel and Dietrich and Hemmingway and Nazi villains and French heroes. There is sex and drugs and more! And the author has certainly convinced me that I not only must read Marcel Proust ASAP, but that the next time I'm in Paris I must find this hotel to see what it looks like! And alas, that's the problem as I close this book: a book about a hotel with no picture of the hotel. And I'd really like to know why. And what happened to the 'narrative arc'. And most importantly, I'd like to know what the author originally had in mind. This author is experienced, with many publications, so I do want to try something else by Mazzeo.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The world-renown Hotel Ritz in Paris was the center of European culture since its doors opened at the end of the 19th century, and that didn’t change during Nazi occupation. But it was a different kind of cultural impact that it would have on the city during WWII. Instead of housing authors, celebrities, and artists, it sheltered Nazis, collaborators, spies, and other shady characters. Mazzeo first offers a brief history of the hotel and its most famous patrons. Then the Nazi’s claim the hotel a The world-renown Hotel Ritz in Paris was the center of European culture since its doors opened at the end of the 19th century, and that didn’t change during Nazi occupation. But it was a different kind of cultural impact that it would have on the city during WWII. Instead of housing authors, celebrities, and artists, it sheltered Nazis, collaborators, spies, and other shady characters. Mazzeo first offers a brief history of the hotel and its most famous patrons. Then the Nazi’s claim the hotel and high-ranking officials like Goring make themselves right at home in the luxurious suites. Chapter One opens with the most profound and heartbreaking image of “A Frenchman weep[ing], watching Nazi troops occupy Paris.” My only complaint was that some of the anecdotes seemed a bit disjointed at times and I didn’t feel like Mazzeo wrote with authority. What I found most intriguing was the shift in dynamic upon the liberation of Paris by the Allies. Hemingway sought to liberate the Ritz itself and turned the hotel into his own party venue. Coco Chanel haunted her rooms there hoping to evade arrest for her suspicious activities with her German lover. Marlene Dietrich graced the Ritz with her presence while entertaining troops in the European theater. This incredible hotel hosted larger-than-life personalities and I enjoyed how it was showcased as a staging area for history to unfold. But the glitz and glamour that made it an iconic venue in the first half of the 20th century was not to last and its evolution in the decades to come is presented in the context of reshaping Europe in the modern era. I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Goodreads First Reads program.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cindy H.

    Really enjoyed this fascinating non fiction read about the iconic Hotel Ritz. From its opening in 1898 until today countless celebrities, writers, artists and intriguing figures have called The Ritz home. The author does an excellent job of describing the atmosphere and energy of each decade and who all the players were and how they influenced and shaped history.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ronald Roseborough

    There's a reason they sing songs about the Ritz. It was a fabulous hotel to meet, greet, and eat in the city of lights, Paris. From it's inception, just before the turn of the twentieth century, it was de rigueur for the rich and famous to party, make love, and plan the future of Europe from inside it's lavishly decorated walls. In the 1920's and 30's it was the home for the Lost Generation of writers artists and expatriates. Before and during World War II, it was still the place to be seen for There's a reason they sing songs about the Ritz. It was a fabulous hotel to meet, greet, and eat in the city of lights, Paris. From it's inception, just before the turn of the twentieth century, it was de rigueur for the rich and famous to party, make love, and plan the future of Europe from inside it's lavishly decorated walls. In the 1920's and 30's it was the home for the Lost Generation of writers artists and expatriates. Before and during World War II, it was still the place to be seen for which ever side was currently occupying Paris. German officers including, Reichsmarshal Hermann Goring, flocked to it like bees to honey. They rubbed elbows with film stars, cabaret performers, politicians, the aristocracy, and the filthy rich of Europe. It was also a great gathering spot for spies and double agents from both sides in the war. They could be hidden among the guests, both military and civilian, as well as the staff, who might work for either side. The stories of the people who led these lives are extremely interesting. Most are fraught with danger and suspense. Some are sprinkled with humor. Many are appalling in the revelation of acts of cruelty and inhumanity that were suffered by so many. It is revealing of the injustices of this world, that some can be so cruel to others, yet escape judgement. A mesmerizing true story. Book provided for review by Amazon Vine.

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