Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mistress of the Ritz-Book Review

 


This book was introduced to me by a friend who read it for her book club.  She said it was a book all the club enjoyed.  After reading it, I can see why.  It has everything I like in a story: history, romance, secrets and true to life characters.  The story is inspired by the true life story of Claude and Blanchette Auzello.  Claude was the French director of the Ritz and Blanche was his American wife.


The Story Line

This compelling novel takes us to the glamor of the Ritz and introduces us to all the wonderful characters who enter its doors.  We see bits with Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more memorable characters from the 1940's.

The story begins in the 1920's when Claude Auzello meets Blanche, an American who has come to Paris in the hopes of becoming an actress.  Claude sweeps Blanche off her feet and they settle into life at the Ritz, where Claude becomes the director.  Life at the Ritz is glamorous and the guests are pampered by Claude and his staff.  Blanche enjoys meeting all of the memorable characters in the Ritz bar.

Life goes along at the Ritz with the glamor of the place and the work of Claude putting a tamper on their marriage.  Blanche and Claude get along but sometimes their differences also draw them apart with each of them living their own lives and keeping secrets.  Everything changes in June 1940 when the Nazi's invade Paris and take over the Ritz as their headquarters.  The Ritz staff is kept but moved to the back of the building and now must cater to the Nazi's every wish, all the while being afraid of every move they make.  

I don't want to spoil more of the plot but the French Resistance plays a big part in the rest of the book and secrets are kept, even from those they are closest to.

The Book on Amazon



My Thoughts on the Book

I really enjoyed the book.  It is the first book I had read by Melanie Benjamin, and I will certainly check out more of her books.  I highly recommend this compelling book.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review of The Keeper of Happy Endings

 

Book Review: The Keeper of Happy Endings
This was another book I downloaded from Amazon Prime and I was absolutely captivated from page one.  In this book the author, Barbara Davis, weaves a wonderful tale of two woman decades apart whose lives are very similar.  Both have a fiance' who is missing and they fear they have lost. Both are devastated by their tragedies and at first have trouble finding the strength to continue on with their lives.



Soline

Soline Roussel has learned the bridal industry from her family.  For generations the family has had a bridal shop in Paris where they are well known for the magic in their dresses that bring happy endings to the brides who wear them.  The dresses are all hand made and beautiful and Soline learns to carefully stitch the dresses.  All is well till the war comes to Paris along with the German occupation.  Dresses are no longer in demand and Soline is pulled in many directions including working with the resistance.  Heartbreak and grief lead her to America where she starts a new life.

Rory

Decades later Rory comes in contact with Soline when she leases Soline's old bridal shop for a gallery for unknown artists.  Rory has a tragedy herself in a missing fiance' and a domineering mother.  She is torn between hiding and moving forward.  I would love to tell more of the story but do not want to spoil the surprise and twists and turns of the story.  Let us just say that the two women meeting will become a turning point in both of their lives.

Other Books by this Author

I  first read a book by Barbara Davis when it was an Amazon Prime first read last year.  The Last of the Moon Girls was another book the captivated me right from the beginning.  Here is a review I wrote about it.



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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954 Book Reviewed

Antoine Laurain's Vintage 1954

I usually know exactly how I am going to start a book review before I even put the book down. However, that was not the case with the book Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain because I was concerned that speaking of any of the individual moments in the book would ruin the fun surprises.

Inspired by the tagline on the front of the book I decided I would simply ask, “What would you do if you could travel to the Paris of your dreams. In 1954?” That is exactly what happens in this book though it is definitely a case of time travel for entertainment purposes and not a scientific look at time travel.

Four residents of a Parisian apartment building meet and, after sharing a very special bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, they discover that it has, as the back cover of the book says, special properties. They wake up the next morning in 1954 with some of them temporarily unaware of the difference and others instantly aware that things are not as they should be.

The characters are an interesting mix that includes a man whose family originally owned almost all of the apartments in the building, an antique restorer, a mixologist and an American tourist who is renting an Airbnb. It is through each of their perspectives that we see Paris of the 1950s.

NB Magazine put it perfectly when they say that, "the comedy is gentle and slightly absurd and that there are many clever vignettes and sketches that enrich the novel." I totally agree. Vintage 1954 is a lightweight but charming, entertaining and sometimes funny book that is RECOMMENDED by me. 

The book was exactly what I and perhaps even you need right about now. It is historical fiction of a different sort. It is quirky or whimsical. It is a romantic book but one in which the romance stems from the setting and the storytelling rather than the fact that two of the characters in the book discover that they love each other. Some might call it a good summer read.

In my mind, there is nothing dark or nasty about it at all though there is a sex scene and the drinking of alcohol. The book is a chance for a trip to Paris from the comfort of your armchair and an opportunity to see and think about some of the contrasts between the Paris of 2017 and the Paris of 1954 and of course, simply the contrasts between those years wherever you may be. The world is a very different place today than it was then.

I enjoyed meeting the characters, seeing Paris through each of their individual lenses, seeing the city of lights in a different time and having the opportunity to meet some of the celebrities who frequented 1950s Paris. I am not naming the celebrities so that you can enjoy them when you meet them in the book.  I was surprised at the very end of the book when the author managed to squeeze in a little life lesson for each of them.

How about it? Would you like to travel back to 1954 or to read this book? Find your copy of or learn more about Vintage 1954 on Amazon by clicking right here.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy your copy of Vintage 1954 on Amazon.
The Time Traveler’s Wife movie review.
An American in Paris movie review.
Discover French Kiss, the ultimate romantic movie soundtrack
Pam Jenoff's Lost Girls of Paris book review. 









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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Book Review: Missing Sister


The Missing Sister is an exciting mystery that takes place in some out of the way places in Paris:  the catacombs, the brothels, and the underworld

Characters

  • Shayna Darby is recovering from the death of her parents when she gets a startling call from Paris.  Her twin sister, who she has not been getting along with is missing and she has been called to identify a body that was pulled from the Seine, that is presumed to be her sister.  When she arrives at her sisters apartment and starts going through her sisters things she makes a startling discovery.  A message, written on a whiteboard in a code that the two sisters developed to talk to each other.  This message could only be meant for her and it said "Alive, Trust No One".  Shayna is excited that her sister is alive but now does not know who she can trust to help her.  She identifies the body as her sisters, even though she realizes it is not, so that she can keep the ruse going while she does her search.
  • Angela Darby, the wilder of the twins went to Paris to study and never returned home.  She loved Paris and was very involved in her life there.  She did not even return for her parents funerals, which became a sore spot between the twins. What was she studying and why did she disappear?  These are questions that Shayna needs to investigate.
  • Jean- Luc lives in the apartment above Angela's.  He introduces himself to Shayna as a representative of the embassy who is there to help her get accustomed to Paris. But can, Shayna trust  him or does he have something to do with Angela's disappearance.
  • Sebastian introduces himself as Angela's boyfriend, but Shayna has never heard of him before.  Of course, Angela has not told her many things the past few years.  At first she lets Seb show her around, but after seeing Angela's message she wonders.  Can she trust him?
  • Valentin- The Officer in charge of the case.  Is he someone Shayna can trust or should she take her sister's warning literally.
  • Chang-a neighbor of Angela's and the one person Shayna feels good about trusting.

Find the Book on Amazon

This book was one of the Amazon Prime's free books for March.  If you like a thrilling mystery that is a real page turner, and just a bit spooky in parts, you will love this book.




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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Collection (A Series) Reviewed

An Intriguing Drama Series To Stream 

sewing machine for fashion
Sewing Machine image courtesy of Pixabay.com
The Collection is a series of episodes that can be streamed through an Amazon Prime membership. My husband and I started viewing it this weekend and we are really caught up in the drama of the show. 

The story takes place in the late 1940s after WWII in Paris. It revolves around the fashion industry focusing on a small house of couture called Paul Sabine. 

In case you are not much of a history buff, during the war France was occupied by the Germans. As one can imagine the fashion industry of Paris suffered during this occupation. In fact, Hitler wanted to move the fashion houses and designers to Germany. 

The series hints at some collaboration with the Germans during the occupation and also shows how the industry is trying to make a comeback and restore its recognition of being the best place in the world for couture and new styles.



I am not one who really gets too caught up in fashion but I do love the premise of this series. The set designs are remarkable! I love seeing how the staff worked at making a design on paper come to life in the sewing room. The attention to detail in how that room would have looked is amazing. In one scene a girl is working on a dress on a mannequin and my husband said, "What does she have on her wrist?" It was a wonderful old fashioned pin cushion that a seamstress would have worn on her wrist for convenience.

One might think that most men would not enjoy this series much since it deals with Paris fashion houses. My husband is really enjoying it because there is more than just creating unique dresses involved. I mentioned the hints of collaboration with the Nazis. There is an American reporter who is trying to dig up some dirt on that front. There is also a conflict between the two Sabine brothers that is quite interesting. Paul, who is known as the owner and top designer of the House of Sabine doesn't really design the dresses. His brother Claude is the real talent behind their designs but the public doesn't know that. I don't think most of the staff realizes who the real genius is. The mother of the brothers is pretty interesting too! There is something from her past that makes her mysterious. Paul is holding something over her and she does not want Claude to find out. She is a real piece of work!

We are finding that there is enough going on that both genders, male and female, can enjoy this series found on Amazon. The story holds your attention and keeps you wondering what will happen next. It is currently rated 4.6 stars out of 5 so it would appear that most viewers are rating it highly.

 Currently the only way to view it is through your Prime membership. That might change in the future but for now only Prime members can watch it for free. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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