Mistress of the Ritz Review

Having been a huge Melanie Benjamin fan, especially of The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and The Girls in the Picture (loved the surprise tidbit thrown in about the Pickfords), I was very much looking forward to her latest. There were parts I liked and parts that didn’t work for me, but I mainly felt a lack of focus.

Benjamin takes two historical figures we know very little about, as shared in her Author Note, and populates their story amidst World War II.

Claude Auzello is the director of the Ritz in Paris, and he and his American wife, Blanche, are living large and spending time with many famous faces. The story alternates narration between them. This was a slow buildup of their relationship, often volatile. I did enjoy reading about their marriage struggles, but that took up a lot of space in the front half of this novel.

As the Germans begin their occupation of France, the Auzellos realize that their lives and lifestyles are in danger and begin working with the Resistance. This is where the plot picked up for me. I didn’t quite know where the story was headed in the beginning, which lost a lot of my attention. It seemed a bit scattered, so I had a hard time staying the path Benjamin intended.

I was also looking forward to more after the ultimate conclusion. I know history didn’t share what happened to this couple, but the story could have benefited from the aftermath of the war. In my perfect world, this book would have started at the middle and concluded much later. This might just be me, so if you do enjoy World War II reads, especially those which don’t take place in Germany or are set at the camps, you might want to give this a go.

It’s obvious Benjamin did her research. I trust her writing and can vividly picture whatever scene she sets.

My thanks to the publisher and Wunderkind PR for the review copy.

The Munich Girl Review

I know there is an abundance of WWII books in the marketplace right now, but I promise you this is a book unlike any other.  It is so well researched that it is hard to believe it is fiction.

The Munich Girl tells the story of Anna Dahlberg, a university professor who after remembering a young girl’s portrait from her childhood, sets out to discover its origin.  Little does she know this journey will turn the life as she knows it upside down.  As she does her research, she unravels a background of her mother that has been hidden her whole life.  And the encounters with historical figures are eye opening as well.

I truly enjoyed reading about Eva Braun, a woman in history I knew nothing about.  And from what Phyllis has written in this book, a woman rarely written about.  As Hitler’s mistress (and very short time as his wife), she puts a happier and innocent face on such a trying era of our past.

The duplicate storylines between the past and present keep this story flowing and would be recommended for fans of Orphan Train, The Mapmaker’s Children, and What She Left Behind.  And for those who read and enjoyed The Nightingale, I think you’ll also love this women-focused account of the past.

As of this posting date, the Kindle edition of The Munich Girl is only $2.99.  An incredible price for this one of a kind historical fiction novel.

image About the author:

As she writes fiction and nonfiction, Phyllis Edgerly Ring watches for the noblest possibilities in the human heart. She’s always curious to discover how history, culture, relationships, spirituality, and the natural world influence us and point the way for the human family on our shared journey.

Her newest novel, The Munich Girl: A Novel of the Legacies That Outlast War, traces a pathway of love and secrets in WWII Germany when protagonist Anna Dahlberg discovers that her mother shared a secret friendship with Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun. Her journey to discover the truth about this, and her own life, will challenge most every belief she has about right and wrong.

The author has worked as writer, editor, nurse, tour guide, program director at a Baha’i conference center, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as instructor for the Long Ridge Writer’s Group. She has written for such publications as Christian Science Monitor, Ms., Writer’s Digest, and Yankee, and also published several nonfiction books about creating balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. More information can be found at her blog, Leaf of the Tree.

Thanks to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.