Title: The Riviera House
Author: Natasha Lester
Published: September 1st 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical/Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
From the New York Times bestselling author comes this extraordinary masterpiece of historical fiction that will have you wiping tears from your face.
When Nazis occupy the city, Eliane Dufort is heartbroken – her lover flees for England and her family to the country. She finds herself working at the Louvre on a dangerous secret mission for the French Resistance: to record the priceless national treasures the Germans are stealing.
Desperate to escape her grief, Remy Lang leaves her life in Sydney for the French Riviera. While working on her vintage fashion business, she discovers a catalogue of artworks stolen during World War II and is shocked to see a painting that hung on her childhood bedroom wall. Does the Rivera house hold more secrets than Remy is ready to face?
Lush, engrossing and deeply moving, this is the story of the brave women who worked against the Nazis, told by the international bestselling author of The Paris Secret and The French Photographer.
‘The world still has its masterpieces. But how many people know what it cost to save them?’
Inspired by a remarkable and heroic true story, The Riviera House is the sixth historical fiction release from New York Times bestselling author Natasha Lester. A story of endurance, sacrifice, valour and yearning, The Riviera House is my favourite Natasha Lester novel thus far!
In this graceful dual timeline novel, West Australian author Natasha Lester effortlessly carries her readers from the French Riviera area in the present day to Paris in the Second World War. We are acquainted with two awe-inspiring women, who on first glance do not appear to have anything in common. As this classy story unfolds, we learn of the extraordinary life of Eliane Dufort, an employee of the famous Louvre, who is in love with a painter named Xavier. However, Eliane’s fortunes change when the Nazis infiltrate Paris, which forces Xavier to flee the occupied city for England. Despite her despair, Eliane is drawn to the French Resistance and the underground efforts of Rose Valland, a woman on a mission to protect her country’s most lucrative artworks. Moving forward in time to the present day, Lester’s modern day lead protagonist has just set foot on an estate nestled in the enviable French Riviera area. By chance Remy Lang comes across a catalogue that reveals a hidden history of stolen artworks taking during WWII. When Remy makes a connection between this lucrative catalogue and a piece of art in her possession, she begins to question her family bloodline. Secrets emerge through Remy’s investigations, leading this woman to reassess everything that she knows about her family’s past.
I didn’t think it was at all possible but Natasha Lester has truly outdone herself with her latest and sixth historical release, The Riviera House. Natasha Lester is definitely an author on the rise and a real superstar in the book world. I was not expecting this new Natasha Lester release to trump her previous books, all of which I have adored. The Riviera House was the perfect novel to send out 2021 with a big book bang!
For those who follow my blog closely will already be aware that I absolutely love a dual timeline novel and stories set in Paris during the war. The Riviera House received a number of ticks of approval before I even started my journey with Natasha Lester’s labour of love. I need to extend my gratitude to Natasha Lester for all her hard work in bringing this story to light in the first place. I understand from Lester’s Author’s Note contained at the close of The Riviera House that this novel was far from a walk in the park to bring to the publication stage. With this dedicated writer and researcher reading French only written material in some cases to compliment her historical narrative, Lester clearly went to great pains to birth this incredible story!
To read a Natasha Lester novel, especially in regards to the historical storyline element is to receive the best form of education possible on the Second World War. Lester’s wartime storyline is deeply inspiring, shocking, regrettable and moving. I have always been interested in the efforts of the French Resistance, in particular the hidden female heroines of this perilous time. The Riviera House pays respectful homage to these gallant women, thanks to Eliane and Rose, two of Lester’s principal protagonists in the past storyline. I have a strong connection to the Louvre and the stunning artwork that adorns this prolific building after two visits to the well-known tourist mecca. To read about such a remarkable history and delicate operation to preserve the work that we can currently enjoy today took my breath away. Lester does an exceptional job of illuminating the tireless, dangerous and loyal work of the employees of the Louvre at such a critical time in this building’s history.
In terms of the current day setting, this was Natasha Lester at her optimum! With plenty of references to fashion of the vintage variety, an exotic French Riviera setting and a generous romantic sub plot, complete with lashings of familial intrigue, The Rivera House was utterly divine in my eyes! Modern day lead Remy Lang’s work as a vintage fashion influencer was a fantastic and most fitting addition to this stunning narrative. Remy’s heart-breaking past wounds and devastating loss is felt deep by the reader, thanks to Lester’s emotive prose. I really wanted Remy to find acceptance, happiness and finally settle the family mystery that was plaguing her thoughts. Thankfully, Lester ensures that we have a resolution and although it almost induced a flood of tears for this reader, I’m glad to have experienced every single page of this grand-scale novel.
The Riviera House by Natasha Lester is published by Hachette Australia on September 1st 2021. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of The Riviera House, Natasha Lester, visit here.
The Riviera House is book #110 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge