World War II fiction. I’ve ready plenty that take place in Germany, Poland and Britain, but this novel delves into a country I didn’t realise was so greatly affected until I read it.
We’re going to France folks!
Polly Hartford moves from Australia to France after her father’s untimely suicide to live in the glamour of Paris with her prestigious aunt. However, when she also dies she is left in the company of her three best friends. An American expat, a silent film actress and a Comtesse. The four stay in their second home, The Ritz hotel, and teach Polly about the finer things in life. But she doesn’t have rose coloured glasses on when the Second World War inches ever closer, and eventually hits, Paris. As Wermacht soldiers make The Ritz their home, she’s not the only one with secrets to keep. And definitely not the only one with the courage or cunning to get rid of them.
Characters were great in this novel, especially when you learn about the historical people who inspired them. Many of these characters come from the same, if not similar, walks of life. Not a single one of them felt the same in spite of it. Each so well rounded with their fears, their secrets and the actions they took to further personal and selfless agendas. This was only improved in the afterword when Devenish explained his inspirations for each character. A lot of care was definitely put into each of them.
I will say that the pacing made this novel fall flat in places. A lot of it felt very slow and between POVs monotonous. That made more than one moment not hit as hard as it would have. Some of these moments I even doubted, knowing the multitude of secrets these characters were keeping anyway. For instance, when certain characters died it never quite hit me hard enough. To this day I doubt their deaths. Um, spoiler alert?
This book felt less like a narrative and more like a representation of history, however I didn’t mind. This was due to character arcs being the focus over grandier narratives, making the external events of the Nazi invasion a backdrop to character growth. I mean, that’s how life is, isn’t it? I liked how real it made the novel feel. A history buff may prefer reading this to a novel with a more typical arc.
Heart of the Ritz gets a score of 3.5/5. Characters pull forth the brunt of this novel… with style.
Yours in writing