Four women join forces to survive the invasion of Paris with conviction, courage… and style.
France, April 1940. Orphan Polly Hartford has been sent across oceans to her Aunt Marjorie, known only from letters. When Marjorie dies in suspicious circumstances, Polly is left with her aunt’s loaded pistol in a beautiful Hermès handbag... and to the care of Marjorie’s three closest friends: an elegant Comtesse, a gutter-born film star, and a big-hearted American heiress.
Polly is taken to live at the Hôtel Ritz, where staff and guests believe wealth and prestige protect them from war… But when the Nazis invade, the illusion is shattered.
As Paris deteriorates, Polly and her guardians face the horrors of the Occupation with daring, humour and style – even romance – and despite their dangerous secrets, disastrous under the Nazis, they discover just what they are capable of.
As the Liberation approaches, those who survive at the Ritz must face a day of reckoning, but one truth stands tall: at the heart of the Ritz is the soul of resistance.
A sweeping, dramatic story about conviction and courage, drawn from real characters and extraordinary events.
(photo by Simon & Schuster Australia)
In March I was interviewed by Luke Gibson for an episode of his highly entertaining podcast, The Artiste.
I dished the suds on my soap opera salad days, when I was let fatefully loose upon the denizens of Ramsay Street and Summer Bay - and of course I talked plenty about my books, too, including my forthcoming The Heart of the Ritz.
Me and Luke had a hoot.
In May I received the proof copies of The Heart of the Ritz - the advance copies which are sent out to reviewers and fellow authors for quotes - and the day was indeed a banner day for me with the joy of having physical proof that my new book is real, and what's more, imminent.
Of course I read it again, and of course I once again found myself welling up at my favourite 'heart' moments. It's not like I didn't know they were coming - and yet they still got me.
I hope they'll get you, too.
The Heart of the Ritz will start appearing on Australian and New Zealand bookstore shelves in early September.
It can't come soon enough for me!
In February the first public airing of The Heart of the Ritz occurred at the Historical Novelists Society Australasia's Melbourne chapter's first get together for 2019, where I talked with a room full other historical fiction writers about bringing our characters and settings to life. It was a privilege to introduce my heroine Polly Hartford and her fateful green Hermès handbag to such discerning company. It was also a pleasure to meet Kate Murdoch, Belinda Lyons-Lee, Gabrielle Ryan from the Wheeler Centre, and all the other passionate novelists that make this group such a lively and supportive one.
Photograph by Jel Cel via Facebook
"A fabulous upstairs, downstairs drama."
Australian Women's Weekly
"Luke Devenish is a master at the dramatic cliffhanger."
"A deviously dark and dramatic tale."
"All the Gothic elements plus a little bit more."
Sydney Morning Herald
"I thought I knew exactly what to expect... I was wrong. This book is so much more... and the twists at the end were well worth it."
New Zealand Herald
Read more about The Secret Heiress here.
Listen to me talking about The Secret Heiress on Radio 3CR's Published or Not here.
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Sunday Canberra Times
“…a thrilling tale of sex, murder and corruption…”
Sydney Star Observer
“…each chapter leaves you teetering at the edge of a precipice.”
“…each page seems to bleed colour… Devenish knows how to hook his readers with the plot and dishes out spectacle after spectacle of murder, betrayal, sexual excess…”
“With an incredible narrative power and his distinguished storytelling talent at full strength, Devenish delivers a breathtaking debut novel that is both grand in scope and vivid in detail. Violent, sensual and insanely sordid, the Julio-Claudian tale sweeps the reader into a whirlpool of murder, betrayal, passion, splendour and chaotic mayhem that defined ancient Rome.”
The Independent Weekly
“The cover really does tell it like it is… Roman villainy, lust and betrayal…”
The West Australian
“...scheming, murdering and sexual shenanigans...”
“…the most diabolical characters in Ancient Rome were women, as you will discover…”
“Devenish has built an incredibly detailed, rich version of Ancient Rome, an astounding place, populated by an equally astounding number of quite unpleasant characters… This is a no holds barred use of sex, violence, manipulation, cruelty and intrigue… The Empress of Rome series would definitely be a set of books for any reader who loves this period of time.”
“An entertaining read!” Grazia