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The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris Hardcover – March 11, 2014
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Similar to her work in The Secret of Chanel No. 5 (2011), Mazzeo’s latest threads a great many strands—stories of a war, a people, a city, a time and place—through a single bead: Paris’ Hotel Ritz. In a narrative style, Mazzeo holds a dizzying cast of persons of interest under glass as they sleep and work, meet and seek refuge in the then-Swiss-owned hotel, beginning with its grand Belle Epoque opening and focusing mainly on WWII and Paris’ German occupation. Truly, fiction could not write betrayal, resistance, collaboration, or celebration with more robustness or with a more alluring who’s-who of writers, artists, and military powers than history did in this single hotel. Amid chilling tales of the terrible ambiguities of war and the treatment and purging of enemies on all sides, Mazzeo offers lightness in her biography of an inarguably dark time through obvious care for her subjects. Friends and lovers abound, and all but the worst villains are showed multidimensionally, as Mazzeo contemplates the Ritz, Paris, and Europe in flux. --Annie Bostrom
“This gorgeously written (and photographed) book is a feast for readers wanting to be swept away this summer. . . . Tracing the captivating history of Paris’s world-famous Hôtel Ritz, Mazzeo reveals a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and treachery.” (Brad Thor, The Today Show Summer Reads)
“Stolen art, double agents, a legendary bartender passing notes to the resistance: This is a rich, messy history.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Mazzeo pulls back the heavy curtains of the Ritz in Paris to reveal a steamy world of sex, drugs, partying and political intrigue.” (Alan Riding, author of And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris)
“Mazzeo enthrallingly depicts a hotbed of both the magnificent and the mundane. . . . Readers will enjoy Mazzeo’s fascinating collection of secretive, scheming historical characters, all under one elegant roof.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Fiction could not write betrayal, resistance, collaboration, or celebration with more robustness or with a more alluring who’s-who of writers, artists, and military powers than history did in this single hotel. ” (Booklist)
“Tilar J. Mazzeo tells the tale of the Hotel Ritz, a landmark so imbued with glamour that it was the only hotel in Paris the Nazis ordered to stay open during the war. The antics at and around it during World War II were often shocking.” (New York Post)
“Must read. . . . Mazzeo artfully transports readers to the Nazi occupation of World War II . . . The Hôtel on Place Vendôme contextualizes the opulence of 1940s Paris, making for a work of history that reads as enticingly as a novel.” (Harper's Bazaar)
“An illuminating history of the intrigue and drama taking place inside its elegant façade. . . . The narrative reads like fiction, with the difference being accurate testimony from well-researched documents and interviews.” (Bookreporter)
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Top customer reviews
I will quote one section of a paragraph on pp.16-17 to give a brief sense of how absurd this book is: "While in Paris, the Führer made arrangements to meet one of the hotel's regulars, Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the Ballets Russe, the Russian ballet in Paris, to ask him personally to carry on making art in Paris. After all, that was what German conquerors wanted most: a luxurious modern playground and the ultimate Parisian experience. The disappointed ballet star managed to oversleep and miss the meeting–but he did carry on entertaining the occupiers."
That paragraph is so full of absurdities and errors and bad, gushy writing that I will leave it otherwise uncommented upon. I agree with other commentators. It is dismaying that a book this thoroughly bad, not to say so often wrong factually and throughout stylistically repellent, was published.
This may seem trivial, but it is an example of the author's complete disinterest in facts. Another is her claim that Ernest Hemingway committed suicide ay his home in Key West. He did not. It was at his home in Ketchum, Idaho..
The author makes statements as though they were facts, when there is not a shred of truth to them. It is beyond pitiful, and a disgrace to literature.
It is sad that anyone would publish such a book., The publisher's proof reader left an unnecessary "t" after the word "only" on page 16. Very sloppy this. I wish I had my money back..
The chapter on my father's actions during the Liberation of Paris is full of mistakes and bears no connection whatsoever to the Ritz, except, as the author notes on the basis of nothing, that my father's family "MUST" have known people who resided in or passed through the Ritz!
Not just disappointing but unacceptable.
1. P 20 Serge Diaghilev is described as a " lithe ballet star", in fact he was a portly impressario.
He is also described as frequenting Coco Chanel's table at the Ritz. She is described as living there since the early 1930s. Diaghilev died in 1929!
2. P33 Sacha Guitry is described as a"young playwright" attending Parisian literary salons in 1897, which would make him 12 years old, young indeed.
Such errors seriously put the book's credibility in question