Airing time: Mondays and Tuesdays, 11pm. Replayed Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12 noon.
Title: The Heart of the Ritz
Written by: Luke Devenish
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 guests and staff 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, style – even romance – and despite their dangerous secrets, 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.
This wartime story set in Paris starts in 1940 and ends after the city's liberation. Listeners will enjoy hearing narrator Jennifer Vuletic portray the denizens of the swanky Ritz Hotel during those dark days. The plot revolves around a 16-year-old Australian girl who becomes the ward of three quirky, stylish, and good-hearted women, all living in the glamorous hotel. Vuletic excels at making the odd assortment of wealthy women seem real. One hears the elegant French countess, with her refined diction; the less-than-genteel film star, who has a raspy timbre like that of someone on drugs; and the American heiress, whose loud and brassy voice features an exaggerated but authentic American accent. Other characters are distinctive as well. This warm account places listeners in a world of fashion, danger, and intrigue.
'Luke Devenish is a master of the dramatic cliffhanger.’
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