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November 10, 2021

The Riviera House by Natasha Lester ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

‘Art is all we have when words fail us, when mankind fails us and when we each fail each other. If we don’t save these works, we can’t save ourselves.’

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The Riviera House
August 2021; Forever; 978-1538717318
audio, ebook, print (480 pages); historical fiction

The Riviera House
is another fantastic WWII novel by Natasha Lester, who has quickly become one of my favorite authors for WWII fiction.  As with her last three books (The Paris Seamstress, The Paris Orphan, and The Paris Secret) her new book takes place in Paris during WWII.  In this book, the main character is once again a strong woman who does what she can to thwart the daily threat from the Germans who have occupied Paris and want to remove many of the famous artworks to send them to Germany for personal collections. 

This dual timeline novel connects the life of Elaine in Paris during the war and Remy in present day who is fighting to recover from a terrible personal tragedy.  Many times in a dual timeline novel, I like one story better than the other but in this book, both times lines and both characters were so interesting that I enjoyed them both.

Paris, 1939.  Eliane works at the Louvre cataloging the art collection.  She also works at home to help her younger siblings because her parents spend all of their time at a restaurant they own and her father spends much of his time drunk.  As the German Army grew closer to Paris, she worked with other people to help remove many of the important paintings and statues from the Louvre to put into hiding in various estates throughout France.  When the Germans start to confiscate art from the museums, it quickly becomes apparent that the masterpieces are being sent to the private collections of Goering and Hitler. They continue to get more artwork from the rich Jewish families who are being sent to camps.  Elaine continues to work with the Germans and since they have no idea that she can understand German she is able to get valuable information about what paintings are being removed and where they were sent.  She's playing a dangerous game but believes that this information needs to go to the Resistance so that once the war is over, the art can be returned to the rightful owners.  

Present Day - Remy comes to a home on the Riviera that was mysteriously given to her to help herself recover from a personal tragedy.  When she finds a catalog of the artworks that were stolen from France during WWII, she's shocked that one of them hung on her childhood bedroom walls.  She was adopted and knew very little about her birth parents but she begins to wonder how they became the owners of this painting. As she starts a personal investigation into the painting, she finds out family secrets that shock and dismay her.

This wonderfully written, well-researched novel is based on a real woman who risked her life to save the art in Paris during the war.  Other characters were also based on real people of the time.  I think it's great that we can learn more about women who worked with the resistance because these stories have stayed hidden until now.  This was a book that I couldn't put down and I'm still thinking about the characters days after I finished reading it.  It's a real testament to the women who fought to make a difference in the world and to overcome their oppressors during the war.  I shed a few tears while reading it but left the book with feelings of gratitude for these women as well as awe at their bravery

I purchased this novel for my own entertainment.

Buy The Riviera House at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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