Natasha Lester’s latest historical fiction alternates between Paris in the 1940s and 2015 on the French Rivera. Éliane Dufort is working at the Louvre when the Nazis start stealing the country’s most treasured artwork. The Jeu de Paume gallery becomes the transit station for the movement of the pieces to various locations. Pretending to not understand German, Éliane is able to spy on those coordinating the plundering and she secretly catalogs each piece, noting where the artwork is being sent. The second timeline takes place at the villa owned by Remy Lang, who is mourning the loss of her husband and young daughter. Although she was adopted as a baby, the luxurious property was left to her by her birth family. She finds a book at the villa which shows pictures of all the looted artwork during WWII. Included is a painting she immediately recognizes as one that had hung in her bedroom since childhood. The discovery leads Remy to seek the truth about her birth family.
Lester’s books are beautifully written. As with her others, she weaves historical figures with fictional characters. The Riviera House is another wonderful, well-researched story that tells of brave people who risked their lives to save France’s masterpieces. While the wartime storyline is the most riveting, as it reflects the unimaginable reality of what was occurring during the Nazi occupation, the modern day story is very engaging. Both periods include some romance. And when the past and the present start to come together, prepare to be deeply moved.
Many thanks to Forever / Grand Central Publishing, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this memorable book in advance of its publication.
Rated 4.75 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: August 31, 2021.
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