"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 Girls at the Ritz, to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2019.
The South of France, April 1940. Parentless sixteen-year-old Polly Hartford longs for a life where she might do good in the world. Her eccentric Aunt Marjorie, with whom Polly travels as a companion, passionately shares these dreams. But when Marjorie dies unexpectedly, the legacy Polly receives from her aunt ignores these dreams entirely. Heartbreakingly, it’s as if Marjorie never knew of them at all.
Instead, Polly is “given” to Marjorie’s three best friends: Alexandrine, an elegant Comtesse with a unique attitude to marriage; Zita, a fabulous film star born in the gutter; and Lana Mae, a big-hearted, big-boned American millionairess. Together, they move Polly into their home away from home: the luxurious Hotel Ritz in Paris. Then the forces of Nazi Germany invade.
Bonded as friends, these girls at the Ritz face the uncertainties ahead with courage, humour, and style. For chic Alexandrine, a reckoning awaits for converting to Judaism to marry her husband. For devil-may-care Zita, a past in Berlin comes back to haunt her in blackmail. For lively Lana Mae, riches become rags when her fabulous funds are frozen. And to idealistic Polly comes first love with Tommy, a handsome hotel waiter leading a life of secrets. Let down by the adults who have forgotten how to fight, Polly and Tommy join the French Resistance. As Paris deteriorates, even the luxuries of the Ritz aren't enough to escape the brutal realities of the Nazis.
Glamorous guests and steadfast servants; driven Resistance fighters, deluded collaborators, and utterly contemptible Nazis. Together they are the denizens of a den of luxury, the world's most famous hotel, facing 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.
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.