by Natasha Lester
Publication Date August 31, 2021
Published by Forever
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Genres: Europe, Family & Relationships, Fiction, Historical, History, War & Military, Women, World War II
The New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Secret weaves a lush and engrossing novel of World War II inspired by a true story and perfect for fans of Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff.
Paris, 1939: The Nazis think Éliane can't understand German. They’re wrong. They think she’s merely cataloging art in a Louvre museum and unaware they’re stealing national treasures for their private collections. They have no idea she’s carefully decoding their notes and smuggling information to the Resistance. But Éliane is playing a dangerous game. Does she dare trust the man she once loved with her secrets, or will he only betray her once again? She has no way to know for certain . . . until a trip to a stunning home on the French Riviera brings a whole new level of peril.
Present Day: Wanting to forget the tragedy that has left her life in shambles, Remy Lang heads to a home she’s mysteriously inherited on the Riviera. While working on her vintage fashion business, she discovers a catalog of the artworks stolen during World War II and is shocked to see a painting that hung on her childhood bedroom wall. Who is her family, really? And does the Riviera house hold more secrets than Remy is ready to face?
Natasha Lester brilliantly explores the impossible choices ordinary people faced every day during extraordinary circumstances, weaving fact with fiction and celebrating women who push the boundaries of their time.
The Riviera House by Natasha Lester is a beautifully written, historic novel, with dual timelines set in France during WWII and the present. I was entranced and blown away by the beauty of the writing and the stories inside.
The first timeline starts in Paris in 1930 and follows Éliane as she struggles to go to school and learn about art and art history and also helps care for her sibling. She also falls in love with Xavier, an Englishman who trades fine art, however, he disappears just before the Nazi invasion and breaks her heart. Once the Nazis invade she works at a museum, cataloging fine art pieces. The Nazis don’t believe she knows understands German and she’s free to pick up information and pass it on to the Resistance.
In the present-day timeline, Remy discovers she inherited a stunning villa on the French Rivier from her birth parents that she never knew. Remy is has a vintage fashion business but is also still grieving the loss of her young daughter and husband in a car accident nearly three years ago. Once in the Villa, she meets a boisterous family next door, who all have their own secrets. She also discovers that an old painting she’s had with her since her childhood was once stolen from the Louvre by the Nazis in World War II. How did she get that painting?
The Riviera House is a stunning and beautifully written story about unimaginable courage and survival during one of the most horrendous times in our history. The Riviera House is also two of the most enchanting love stories I’ve read in a while. This book is huge at 480 pages, but I zipped through this book in only two sittings because I was enthralled by the story from the very first page. The descriptions of the exotic settings in this book are stunning.
Often in dual timeline books, one of the timelines is better than the other, but in The Riviera House, I found both stories equally enthralling, for different reasons. I loved the past timeline and was fascinated with the historical details as well as the courage and bravery of Éliane and her friends and family. In the present timeline, I was drawn to Remy and empathized with her grief and sadness, but I was also interested in her vintage fashion business. The neighbors next door, especially her love interest, Adam, were interesting and realistic. I thought the author did an excellent job at describing the beautiful scenery, the villa, and the vintage clothes.
What I also found surprising about this book was the unexpected twists and turns the story takes. I could not guess the ending, nor the relationships between the timelines until the very end. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.