"A fabulous upstairs, downstairs drama... Devenish's plot is as thick as Biddy's broth."
Australian Women's Weekly
"Luke Devenish is a master at the dramatic cliffhanger."
"You can never be quite sure what you are seeing..."
The West Australian
"All the Gothic elements plus a little bit more."
Sydney Morning Herald
"I thought I knew exactly what to expect: a fabled house, old money, and identical twins. I was wrong. This book is so much more... and the twists at the end were well worth it."
New Zealand Herald
I'm taking time out in the first half of this year to write a new historical novel, The Heart of the Ritz, to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2019.
The French Riviera, May 1940. Sheltered, sixteen-year-old, English schoolgirl Polly Hartford longs for a life of grown-up romance that seems all but impossible from the tumbledown villa she shares with her aged Aunt Margery, an overbearing, retired soprano. But when Aunt Margery dies from an illness she had carefully kept hidden from her niece, Polly gains a windfall: one thousand nights' accommodation, paid for but never used, at a suite in the luxurious Ritz Hotel in Paris.
Overnight, Polly’s once protected life becomes ripe with possibility. She is taken under the collective wing of Aunt Margery’s three best friends: Alexandrine, a lately, gratefully divorced baroness; Zita, a famously beautiful film star; and Lana Mae, an extravagantly wealthy, Mid-West American socialite. Then the forces of Nazi Germany invade.
Bonded tightly as friends, all four women face the uncertainties ahead with courage, humour, and peerless Parisian style. For elegant Alexandrine, a reckoning awaits for her conversion to Judaism when she married the philandering Baron. For devil-may-care Zita, a dangerous passion takes hold when she begins an affair with an officer from the Nazi high command. For lively Lana Mae, riches become rags when her fabulous funds are frozen, then stolen, forcing her to live by her wits. And to unworldly Polly comes the chance to win all that she wished for when she falls in love with eighteen-year-old Tommy Harsanyi, a handsome Hungarian waiter, who leads a secret double life as a fighter for the French Resistance.
Drawn from real life characters and extraordinary events, The Heart of the Ritz features an upstairs, downstairs mix of glamorous guests and steadfast servants; driven Resistance fighters, deluded collaborators, and utterly contemptible Nazis, who together are the denizens in a den of luxury, the world's most famous hotel, throughout the nightmare of the Second World War.
More details about my new book will appear on this website in coming months.
As well as writing novels and plays, and thanks to my background in television, I also teach screenwriting at the University of Melbourne. Together with my screenwriting colleagues Ben Michael, Annabelle Murphy and Philippa Burne, I won a prestigious award for Programs that Enhance Learning as part of the Australian Federal Government’s 2017 Awards for University Teaching.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Screenwriting degree is a pioneer in the design of innovative whole-student learning curricula in screenwriting programs in Australia.
Simon Birmingham, the Federal Minister for Education, said of the Awards: “Great teachers can bestow great benefits on their students by inspiring a thirst for lifelong learning and inquiry, by equipping them with the ability and imagination to respond to changing circumstances in innovative ways.”
As passionate about teaching as I am about writing, I wholeheartedly agree.
Decidedly smutty fun was had back in September when I joined fellow novelists Anna Campbell and Kate Forsyth in reading out our very best/worst sex scenes, to the horror/delight of our fellow Historical Novelists Society Australasia Conference attendees.