The Hotel on Place Vendome Tilar J. Mazzeo Non-fiction
INTERVIEW: Author Tilar Mazzeo talks about what fascinated her about the Ritz Hotel, and how she found out about some of its scandals and secrets.
ABOUT THE BOOK: For over a century, Paris’ Hotel Ritz has been a popular spot for socialites, royalty, politicians, famous writers, artists and actors.
Taking you through the early history of the renowned hotel, Tilar Mazzeo shows just how central the Ritz was during the first half of the 20th century.
The hotel was established in 1898 on Place Vendome. It immediately turned into a hot spot in the City of Light.
Mazzeo’s focus is on what went on inside the Ritz leading up to, and during, the Second World War. French and American guests mingled with the Germans who moved in when they occupied Paris in 1940. There was no separation between Allies and Nazis inside the hotel. (Those who “collaborated” with the Germans in Paris paid for their indiscretions after the war.)
Here’s some of what you’ll find in The Hotel on Place Vendome:
- Famous regulars of the Ritz included: Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, F, Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, the ...
The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The Museum of Extraordinary Things is set in New York City in 1911.
Coralie lives in Brooklyn with her father, the owner of a museum of “living wonders.” The museum is a kind of freak show. Spectators line up to witness a man who looks more like a wolf and a girl who has butterfly wings instead of arms.
Coralie herself was born with a deformity – webbed hands. Since she was a girl, her father has forced her to learn to swim like a fish so that she may become an exhibit in his world of rarities.
After one of her swims in the Hudson River, she meets a photographer who is running from his past. Ed Cohen is a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who has been trying to find himself since he left his dad and his religion as a young boy.
One day, he is visited by a man who is looking for his daughter, missing since a devastating fire at her workplace left 146 people dead (this is historical: known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire).
Ed’s search for the girl’s body leads him to the Museum ...
Serafim & Claire Mark Lavorato Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The book is set in Montreal in the 1920s, a time of jazz, flapper dresses, glitzy vaudeville houses, a growing women’s movement, and corrupt politicians (well, I guess only some things have changed).
Claire Audette is a dancer who is slowly making her way up the ladder in the city’s vaudeville houses. She wants fame and fortune, but she has a hard time finding that breakout role – the job that will send her straight to the top.
Serafim Vieira is a photographer who is experimenting with a style that is so new and progressive, it is still shunned by most people. That new style is candid photography. In an attempt to escape heartbreak in his home country of Portugal, he sails to Montreal to try to carve out a new life.
When Claire and Serafim’s lives collide, they come up with a plot that can bring them the glory they’re seeking. But it can also destroy them.
MY THOUGHTS: There are several things that I like about this book – the setting, the theme, the structure, the characters.
Whenever an author adds a personal, unique touch to a novel, it stands out. ...
Independence Cecil Foster Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Independence is a coming of age story set in Barbados during its independence from Britain in 1966.
Best friends Christopher and Stephie, both 14, live next door to each other with their grandmothers.
Their mothers both went “over ‘n’ away” to North America to find work when they were toddlers. Christopher and Stephie hope to hear from their mothers, but they’re disappointed day after day as the mailman passes by their homes empty-handed.
Stephie is growing up much faster than Christopher, the narrator. She’s forced to become a woman while he still struggles to understand the world from the eyes of a young teenager.
As the two teens mature, so does the newly independent nation around them.
MY THOUGHTS: Foster touches on what is a lesser-known piece of colonial history, combining the development of a nation with the maturation of two teenagers.
Those two themes complement and feed off each other, making the storyline feel natural.
I love how Christopher morphs from an innocent child to someone who begins to understand the injustice of the world. It reminds you of how young and ignorant you once were, and, really, how wonderful that was.
One of ...
Wake Anna Hope Fiction
INTERVIEW: Listen to my chat with author Anna Hope on her visit to First World War cemeteries in France, the story of the Unknown Soldier, and the aftermath of the war.
SYNOPSIS: Wake follows the lives of three women in London as the country prepares to bury the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1920.
All three women have been closely affected by the First World War.
Ada struggles to move on after losing her son to the war, not knowing how he died or where his body is buried. She has visions of Michael on the streets of London, holding on to hope that he may still be alive.
Evelyn is surrounded by the effects of the war. She lost her fiancé and now works in a military pensions office where she is in constant contact with veterans struggling to map out a new life. Her brother, Ed, made it home after the war, but he is haunted by the part he played in France.
Hettie works as a dance instructress to support her family, including a brother who is mute after returning from the war.
The three women’s lives are woven together as a nation unites ...