This book is frustrating because it could have been so much more than it is. Mazzeo’s book advertises itself as a wartime history of a famous, very posh, in France during World War II. In the introduction (which is really one of two introductions), Mazzeo even makes a connection to the modern EU.
The problem is that the book really doesn’t do what the introductions claim it is going to deliver.
The soap opera aspects are present. Most of them, however, involved Hemingway, and if you already know anything about Hemingway, it is really new information. He just looks doucheier. But most of the hanky panky is Hemingway hanky panky. It’s a soap opera you know, and the setting isn’t there. In other words, if you going to go old Hotel, it helps to make the hotel live.
Honesty, there is no real description of the hotel, no sense of the place. There are no photos.
Further, more interesting stories than those involving Hemingway are abandoned or given less space. The story of manager’s wife and others’ activities in the French Resistance could have been more developed. In fact, the lives of those working at the Hotel could have more developed. There is the story of the American Angel, but the post war aspect of her story is hinted at, though never returned to (as is the EU connection).
This doesn’t mean the book is all bad. The writing in terms of style is energetic, making the book a quick read. Mazzeo’s description of photo journalist Bob Capa makes one want to read a biography of that man.
Despite these good aspects, the book is disappointing because a reader can see how much better it could have been.