BOOK CLUB: The Heart of The Ritz

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By Luke Devenish
ISBN13: 9781925750218
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia

Polly Hartford has only ever known her aunt Marjorie from the letters she has been sending over the years. Aunt Marjorie’s life sounds glamorous, wonderful and so exciting. When Polly turns 16 and her father dies, she is sent across the seas from Australia to France and into the care of Aunt Marjorie. They are aboard a train, first-class carriages no less, and Polly can sense that something is wrong. Why is the cabin door closed? Why is her aunt fidgeting so much? Then all of a sudden, another tragedy unfolds in front of her.


Set in France, April 1940, Polly is thrown into a world where there are many secrets and unanswered questions. She is soon wondering who her aunt really was, why did she give Polly a gun and why has Polly received a strange letter? Who are her Aunt Marjorie’s friends, what secrets are they keeping from Polly and how can they be in such denial of the impending German invasion?

This is a story of four women, with characters as tough as nails, who demonstrate extraordinary courage and conviction whilst remaining committed to the style they are known for and accustomed to.

The author has such a descriptive style of writing, it is easy to imagine these ladies dripping in their finery, jewels, beautiful clothes, and cocktails; their society lifestyle seems wonderful, I would love to visit The Ritz.

This book could very well be made into a movie; Baz Lurhmann would enhance the story, giving such elaborate costumes to the characters and the setting, just imagine the Ritz Hotel.

I commend the author Luke Devenish on a very well written book. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review such an exciting novel.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Heart of the Ritz by Luke Devenish. You can hear what they thought in the comments section below, or contribute to the discussion.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Heart of The Ritz

  1. Australian writer luke Devenish has put in much research to produce an historical fiction story which is intriguing throughout the story, following the fate of four very different women but the best of friends, revealing secrets to the last page.
    Highlighting incidents from occupied France during the second world war the story revolves around the fashionable Ritz Hotel and its’ extravagant characters.
    The German army take over France efficiently with good manners and planning but gradually reveal their brutal methods and warped individuals within their ranks.
    Resistance develops within the community as individuals rebel against the German occupation. Even the young people run their own protests to disrupt the occupiers.
    The Author shows the changes in the characters as they grow during the occupation and they all help in their own ways to support each other and remain true to their comrades.
    The story has a lovely ending despite the deaths and ties everything together.

  2. I was rather excited to read this, as a large portion of the book is set in The Ritz, Paris. Sadly I didn’t actually stay there when I visited Paris, but I did stay just around the corner from Place Vendome, so spent quite a lot of time walking past The Ritz and gawking at it. So the setting was an immediate win for me, I could visualize the hotel and the surrounds perfectly. Australian author Luke Devenish has given us 16 year old (Aussie) Polly, in this story, and her aunt Marjorie. Also a brash red-head American heiress, a gutter-mouthed movie star Parisienne, and an elegant French Comtesse. They are all so completely different, brought together by the older Marjorie, a remarkable woman. Apart from their curious seemingly mis-matched friendships, they all live in The Ritz in WWII Paris. When the Germans invade Paris, the occupation horrors inevitably escalate. It is then that the women forge unusual and secret liaisons with others, working to do their part in the rebellion against the invaders that slowly but surely bubbles up from ordinary (but driven) Parisiennes around them. It’s fascinating to read, especially as some of the stories based on true stories, which makes it even more compelling and heart-wrenching. And yet all act in secrecy (because, needs must) – and so they often don’t know what each other are doing, or in fact what other people (residents and staff) in The Ritz itself are doing. My one gripe was the gutter language a couple of the women use, especially when insulting each other. It drew me out of the story, and I remain unconvinced women in their situation would talk like that; there was no reason for it. Still, the story rolled on. The Ritz itself is virtually a character here too; such a beautiful hotel with such amazing staff. Thanks Beauty & Lace, and Simon & Schuster Australia for the reading copy.

  3. I really enjoyed reading The Heart of the Ritz. Set in Paris during WW2, it certainly gave a great insight into how the people were affected during the German occupation, and how some of them rebelled and helped with the war efforts in their own way,
    The characters were funny and engaging, and the plots and romances interesting. With twists and turns from beginning to end, I can definitely see this book being made into a movie,
    A great read!

  4. I really enjoyed The Heart of the Ritz. It gave great background into the German occupation of France during the second world war and how the citizens resisted the occupation. With strong female characters and some male heroes as well it was an intriguing read.
    I would recommend this book by Australian author Luke Devenish.

  5. The Heart of the Ritz is a fabulous book, I Loved the strong characters and the growth of Polly throughout the difficult years.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace, thank you Luke Devenish

  6. I absolutely loved reading The Heart Of The Ritz by Australian author Luke Devenish.
    It was certainly one of those novels that I couldnt put down but didnt want to turn the last few pages because it would be over.
    Set in Paris in WW2, we have a novel with a very strong female character presence.
    We have a very mixed bag of women all vastly different but brought together during wartime and all living at The Ritz in Paris.
    As the German army takes over France these women are pout in situations that they would never have dreamed of.
    Mystery, secrets and a dose of laughter and support for each other all weaves together to make an engaging read .
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read and review The Heart Of The Ritz.

  7. I was really excited to read The Heart Of The Ritz because I I have always loved novels set during world war 2.
    Luke Devenish takes us on a journey with so many twists and turns.
    The setting is Paris, France and has fascinating characters including 16 year old Polly and the women she is left with after the death of her aunt Marjorie.
    Throughout the book Polly grows up and plenty of drama unfolds.
    Thank you so much for allowing me to review this amazing book.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Heart of the Ritz set in WW2 era, Polly was a strong woman and watching her grow and gain strength through the pages whilst living in Paris was a perfect read, you really got lost in the pages.

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