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The Ritz under Occupation


American novelist Melanie Benjamin has a knack for finding women whose unusual stories have not always been told. After having been very well documented, it is therefore the life of Blanche Ross Auzello that she will choose to relate this time.

So far, we’ve enjoyed all the books by American novelist Melanie Benjamin: The aviator’s wife, which looks at the life of Charles Lindbergh’s wife, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, which tells of the very special friendship that united the writer Truman Capote with the socialite Babe Paley, Hollywood Boulevard, which lifts the veil on the very beginnings of Hollywood cinema, and now, The lady of the Ritz.

This lady, who really existed, has a name: Blanche Ross Auzello. And as the title allows us to guess, she has long ensured the comfort of all the wealthy clients of the legendary Ritz hotel on the Place Vendôme, her husband Claude being none other than the manager of the establishment.

A palace that keeps busy

In June 1940, when the German army invaded the streets of Paris, it was at the Ritz that its senior leaders – including Hermann Göring himself – chose to establish their new quarters. A real nightmare for the Auzello couple, who will have to get used to seeing Nazi soldiers armed to the teeth circulating everywhere in the hotel. For as incredible as it may seem, the Ritz will never close its doors during the Occupation. It was up to Blanche to manage to accommodate Hitler’s booty clients and passing civilians, even though she was the first to have a lot to hide.

A fascinating read that allows us much more than to discover the history of the Ritz: it allows us to meet a woman whose journey has been quite unique.

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A cold case and a fire

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