When I originally downloaded the book Hotel on Place Vendome I thought it was historical fiction but once I started reading I discovered it was non-fiction which pleased me even more. Written and thoroughly researched by Tilar J. Mazzeo, the book describes the opening of the world-famous hotel in Paris and its evolution from a modest, beautiful boutique hotel to the internationally-recognized institution it is today.
The main focus of the book centres around the years when it was occupied by the Germans during World War 2. Residents included Hermann Goering, who when he wasn’t living a drug-addicted lavish life in the Imperial Suite spent his time looting Paris of its precious works of art. Coco Chanel shared digs with her
German lover who was a high-ranking officer. After the war the couple fled to Austria where they lived for 10 years until his death. No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to why Chanel did not suffer the same shameful fate as other collaborators. As the liberation of Paris approached in the summer of 1944, the German occupiers fled with as much confiscated artwork and antiques as they could manage.
The allied forces who took over Paris included new occupants at the Ritz Hotel such as Ernest Hemmingway, Ingrid Bergman and Marlene Dietrich. Petty disagreements over lovers, ego and accomplishments resulted and do not speak well of the individuals involved. While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I thought it could have offered much more information and insight than it did. For that reason I’m giving it 7 out of 10.