Your Preview Verdict: The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

Your Preview Verdict: The Riviera House by Natasha Lester

Paris, 1939. While working at the Louvre, Eliane Dufort falls for talented painter Xavier. But when the Nazis occupy the city, Xavier leaves for England and Eliane must send her sisters to the country. Broken-hearted, she finds herself working with the mysterious Rose Valland on a dangerous secret mission for the French Resistance: to record all the priceless national treasures the Germans are stealing.

Present Day. Desperate to escape her grief, Remy Lang arrives at a stunning private estate on 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 in Sydney. Who is her family, really? And does the Riviera 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.

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

I’ve enjoyed every single book of Natasha Lester’s that I’ve read and The Riviera House was no exception. Lester seamlessly weaves excellent research into an intriguing and immersive story that’s beautifully written and full of heart. The Riviera House is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a very long time. I cannot wait to see what Natasha Lester comes out with next. M, NSW, 5 Stars

Natasha Lester’s stories are always such a wonderful read. The Riviera House is another dual-timeline historical fiction set during WWII and the present. Frenchwoman, Eliane Dufort’s story is set between 1939 and 1944, and follows her and her sibling’s courageous resistance efforts during the war. The story focuses on the theft of priceless artworks by the Nazis. In the present day, Remy Lang has always owned a painting connected to the collections stolen by the Nazis without knowing its origin. While on a break in France, Remy discovers some family secrets that can no longer be left hidden. Thanks to Better Reading for my Preview copy. Sharah, QLD, 5 Stars

The Riviera House, Natasha Lester’s latest dual timeline story that is set in WWII Paris and current day French Riviera. While the love story in this book is fictional the story revolving around the theft of Art by the Nazis during WWII is based on the efforts of Rose Valland who worked at the Jeu de Paume and risked her life recording the details of many of the stolen artwork some listed in ‘The Goring Catalogue’, many of these pieces are yet to be located. As with all of Natasha Lester’s books the reader is taken on an emotional journey with her characters and given a history lesson at the same time quite often highlighting amazing women who did the unexpected – I love this aspect of her books. Congratulations Natasha Lester on another wonderful book, I was thrilled to receive a preview copy to add to my collection of your books. Jill, VIC, 5 Stars

A heartbreakingly beautiful story about love, loss, hope and passion. I loved the entwining of the dual timeline of wartime in Paris and the French Riviera in modern day. This book made me feel sadness and joy throughout. I couldn’t put it down, eager to go on the journey with both characters and discover the connections to each other. Claire, SA, 5 Stars

A beautifully written historical fiction that explores love, loss, self sacrifice and courage in starting all over again. A powerful yet moving tale of Eliane whose loss helped fuel her courage in protecting countless art masterpieces from the hands of the Nazis in WWII. To Remy in uncovering the truth about the masterpieces and the resistances who risked their lives to protect it. A must read! Amy, NSW, 5 Stars

This book is destined to be a favourite for a wide range of readers out there. Like her other works, Lester perfectly captures the heartbreak, joy and loss of the characters she brings to life on her pages. She has a way of drawing her audience into the fast-paced, chaotic world of WW2 Europe, without making it too intense to enjoy. A lovely piece of art, as lovely as the artworks she describes hanging in the Louvre. Angie, NSW, 5 Stars

I have enjoyed reading Natasha Lester’s previous books and feel it is her best book – could not put it down, I was captured from the first chapter. Written in two timelines – present day and Paris in the 1930’s. Here we meet Eliane and her struggle to survive after her father and brother have joined the army and her mother and four sisters have fled Paris after the arrival of the German army. Eliane finds herself working at the Louvre cataloguing artwork that is being stolen and relocated. However, the Nazis do not know she understands German and is therefore able to pass information on to the Resistance. In the second timeline, after the loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident, Remy travels to see the mysterious house in France she inherited, and it is here she learns about her family history. This is the best book I have read this year. Beautifully written, so full of loss, the courage to keep going, joy, sadness and the wonderful descriptive historical details which sent me searching for more information on the removal of artworks during World War 2. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more books by this wonderful storyteller. Marg, VIC, 5 Stars

I did not want to finish this, but not for the reason you’d think. When I’m really loving a book—truly invested in it—I stop reading. I want to actively avoid coming to the end, knowing I’ll have to leave these characters. Lester really grabbed my attention with The Riviera House. I was invested in the characters and swept away by the setting. She struck the perfect balance between the two timelines, keeping me on the edge of my seat. The history nerd in me really appreciated the attention to historical detail, with an intimate view of a war-torn Paris and the realities of life at that time. I’ve been a fan of Lester for a while now and will most certainly continue to read her books. Amy, QLD, 5 Stars

What a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and hope. I instantly fell in love with the two female characters, Eliane and Remy, and I felt like I was a part of their individual stories – sharing in their joy and grief. I really enjoyed how the past and the present stories were intertwined and interwoven throughout the book, as it allowed me to slowly piece together the ending. Natasha Lester expertly juggled fiction with historical accuracy, and it resulted in a poetic remembrance of how the past influences the present. I look forward to reading more from Natasha Lester. Ammie, NSW, 5 Stars

An intricately woven story set in two timelines… almost in two different worlds: WWII Paris and 21st century exotic and luxurious Riviera. The Riviera House is the story of love, hope, loss, betrayal, worthiness of love, life, art and everything in between. Eliane Dufort and Remy Lang are two women on opposite sides of time, born in different countries, living completely different lives. But both of them are connected by the power of love so overwhelming that it conquers everything and overcomes everything, from Nazi occupation and betrayal of loved ones, to the unspeakable loss and finding passion for love and life again. Natasha Lester’s work is to be praised for the voice, background research, respect and love for period and topics she is writing about. I read this book in one go, could not put it down. And when reviews say, the book is ‘moving’, they are scratching the surface only. The Riviera House is moving, soul-searching, shaking, breaking and restoring. Watching the heroines’ lives unfold, reader can’t help but believe and hope, dream and gasp, trust in the power of love and be amazed at the courage of people and at cowardice and evil of people. Can’t wait to read more of Natasha Lester… Svetlana, VIC, 5 Stars

An engrossing historical romance, centred around two very feisty and independent women living in times separated by more than two generations. Eliane lives in Paris during the Nazi occupation, and Remy, a present-day Australian, is working on the Riviera to try to overcome a personal tragedy at home in Sydney. Both women are artistic – Eliane works helping to safeguard artworks from Nazi acquisition, whilst Remy makes her living curating and selling vintage clothing through her online business. Both become close to strong yet troubled men. Whilst each story is individually engaging, the skill of this novel lies in how the two storylines are ultimately connected. Lester takes the reader to a convincing recreation of wartime Paris, whilst her depiction of today’s Riviera is a vicarious tonic for those of us currently unable to travel. This is a story of two women who appreciate and preserve beauty despite living in times of personal trauma and sadness. Very highly recommended. Heidi, VIC, 5 Stars

The Riviera House is a wonderfully written historical fiction novel. It beautifully alternates between WW2 Paris and present time on the French Riviera and captures two heroine characters, Eliane and Remy during this period. I found that both characters are truly finding themselves and holding on to love and hope throughout their journey. I especially loved the character of Eliane as she showed great strength and determination in what she believed in even throughout a Nazi occupied Paris where death and danger are around the darkest corner. Being an enthusiast of all things art, I thoroughly enjoyed the detail written in this novel and it had me searching for new painting titles and fashion items. Overall, I found The Riviera House a deeply moving novel which had me staying up late at night wanting to find out the end. I highly recommend The Riviera House if you love reading historical fiction mixed with Paris, art and no doubt the strength of love. Raffaela, VIC, 5 Stars

I had some trouble getting into The Riviera House, but once I did I was hooked. The characters were so real and the way the past and present stories intertwined and by the end tied up all the stories was satisfying. A really enjoyable book. Jo, QLD, 5 Stars

I absolutely loved this book. I find books written about the Second World War fascinating and this one did not disappoint. The exploration of the theft of all the beautiful art during World War II in Europe was heartbreaking! The current day and historical love stories that ran through the book coupled with the bravery and exploits of the French Resistance made it a real page turner. Couldn’t put it down. Natasha Lester’s books are simply wonderful! Charleen, WA, 5 Stars

This is a well researched and beautifully written story. I expected nothing less of Natasha Lester. The Riviera House is full of intrigue, secrets, danger, courage and melancholy. Those familiar with her writing will understand how her story can span time and this tale does it wonderfully, moving between Paris and the French Riviera of the 1940s to today. It’s a powerful tale of war, love, art, passion, betrayal and loss. Based in historical fact, Natasha Lester intricately weaves her own imagined characters into history. This novel kept me reading late into the night and early hours, as I travelled with Remy on her mission of discovery. This is a must read novel. Harlan, NSW, 5 Stars

The Riviera House had me interested from the start! I couldn’t wait to see what happened next to Eliane and being inspired by a true story, learnt some history along the way. I loved how the past and present intertwined and I felt I was there with them all, during their ups and downs. Both Eliane and Remy were brave women. Eliane putting herself in danger for the good of France and Remy coping with her own tragic personal problems. There was romance, intrigue, companionship, betrayal and sadness which led to a wonderful story I couldn’t put down! A real page turner! This is the first Natasha Lester book I have read and I will certainly be reading more! Vicki, NSW, 5 Stars

My first Natasha Lester book and I admit it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a historical fiction. This book caught me by surprise and completely blew me away. Natasha Lester wonderfully tells two parallel stories set around 70 years apart with compelling and fascinating characters. Stories that seem wholly disconnected at the start but as you read more threads appear that link and merge the narratives. I was immediately drawn to the characters of Eliane and Xavier and Remy and Adam. There is so much pain, suffering and sadness however it was contrasted by the love, kindness, and hope that shine through their stories and the pages. I loved the art and fashion that was weaves through the narratives and the settings in war-torn Paris and the exclusive estate on the French Riviera was so visual. I enjoyed defrosting under the sun with Remy and Adam after difficult days with Eliane and Rose at the Musee Jeu de Paume. Overall a beautiful book that got me a bit teary right at the end. Judy, NSW, 5 Stars

The Riviera House is a heart-wrenching dual timeline novel. It starts with Eliane in Paris in the 1940s and all through World War 2, then switches to Remy in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat in 2015. Both women suffer terrible tragedies in their families. Eliane decides to fight the Germans in power by saving French art, while Remy fights to overcome her grief and discover her family origins. At its core this book is about love and family and trying to keep hope alive. It is written with great feeling and sense of place grabbing your imagination and your heartstrings. I loved it, highly recommended. Kristy, NSW, 5 Stars

The Riviera House is the story of Eliane, she is raised in a large family with five girls in Paris during the 1930’s during the time of Hitler. She is studying Art, and working 2 jobs, whilst also trying to take care of her family. Her Mother works hard at the Brasserie they own, her father is a drunk, and is quite aggressive and violent and takes a lot of out on Eliane and her mother.  The book then moves to the year 2015, Remy is living in a seaside house she is grieving the loss of her daughter and husband in a car accident two years prior. Adam and Remy find a book which is a catalogue of lost Art from 70+ years ago, “The Goering Catalogue,” which contains Art that Hermann Goering stole during World War II. It is this catalogue that Remy sees a picture of a stolen piece of Art that is hanging on her bedroom wall back home in Sydney. This book is beautifully written by Natasha Lester, the dual time lines make the book very intriguing, and making you want to keep reading, to find out what is going to happen next with both main characters. It is a book I could not put down. This is the first book I have read by Natasha Lester, and I am now a huge fan, I will definitely be looking for more of her books in the future. I received a copy of this book from Better Reading and Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review, it’s brilliant and five stars from me. Kylie, NSW, 5 Stars

Thank you for the opportunity of reviewing Natasha Lester’s novel, The Riviera House. Well it certainly did not disappoint, having read several of Natasha’s previous novels. Spanning over two worlds, German occupied Paris during WWII and the French Riviera in present time. It centres around Eliane who has lost most of her family only to find herself wanting to do something meaningful for the war effort. So we follow Eliane and her friends and how she helps to endeavour to save famous French artworks, including the Mona Lisa from falling into the hands of the Nazis forever. It is a story of love, loss, betrayal, desperation and ultimately survival. Natasha Lester manages to intertwine the two worlds and bring them full circle with a dramatic conclusion. Through her writing, Natasha literally takes you into the streets and cafes of wartorn Paris to the stunning scenery of the Riviera. I could not put this book down; a definite page turner and highly recommended. Nicolee, VIC, 5 Stars

Dual timeline, inspired by true events, war time crime, Hitler’s rein, and the history of paintings and people connections in current times. The research that Lester invested into this novel is evident and written so fluently. The Goring Catalogue and the theft of artworks from Jews during WWII was delicately depicted and has enticed me to research further. I will be adding more of Lester’s works to my WTR list. Sharon, QLD, 4 Stars

Another superb offering from Natasha Lester. In The Riviera House, we return again to wartime France, with a focus on the Louvre and its treasures. 1939 – Eliane is an aspiring art student from an impoverished family. With her colleagues at The Louvre, she works to protect invaluable artworks and record the Nazis plundering of art collections. It is a challenge she embraces despite the risks to herself and her family. Present day – in the aftermath of a family tragedy, Remy flees to a beautiful home on the Riviera that is part of a mysterious legacy. She has a vintage fashion business – the reader is treated to sumptuous descriptions of the outfits. Remy starts to unravel the mystery of the house and her heritage, after a chance discovery. Fascinating historical fiction, immaculately researched and a cast of wonderful characters. This is a sweeping story that skilfully combines historical and fictional elements. I did not want to put this down as I followed the journeys of the two heroines, Eliane and Remy. It does not disappoint! Terese, TAS, 4 Stars

The Riviera House is a meticulously researched, thoughtfully written historical novel based on a true story, it explores tremendous love and unbelievable loss and the resilience of the human spirit. The Riviera House cycles between dual timelines- Paris during the occupation in WWII and The Riviera in the present day. It follows Eliane, a young art student, as the Paris she has grown up in is torn apart by war and Remy, trying to escape the heartbreak of losing her husband and daughter by retreating to the mysterious house she inherited on The Riviera. The parallels between Remy and Elaine and the slowly unravelling mystery that connects them kept me turning the pages until the end. Different to most WWII novels, The Riviera House deals with the theft of art from national galleries and Jewish collectors by the Nazis. Some characters are based on the brave resistance members who risked their lives to catalogue the treasures that were removed. I found the authors note at the end of the book fascinating – I had no idea that such things had taken place. Overall a thought provoking and inspirational read. I would particularly recommend to lovers of art or vintage fashion. Debbie, NSW, 4 Stars

The Riviera House by Natasha Lester is an immersive dive into Nazi occupied Paris. Lester brings a new perspective to Parisienne based World War II fiction as she tells the story of how of the artwork from the Louvre was hidden from the Nazi regime. The story moves between the 1940’s and present day in an engaging way that adds to the emotion of the writing. I found the narrative based in the occupation years both informative and interesting. While the present day story was of less interest to me mainly due to Remy’s consistent “woe is me” attitude which I could understand but it wore thin pretty quickly. This being said Remy’s journey to learn her family history is compelling and full of emotion and The Riviera House is a must-read for fans of World War II fiction! Julia, WA, 4 Stars

The Riviera House is the first book I have read by Natasha Lester and she is, indeed, a storyteller. The book takes you back to Paris, during World War 2, to the world of danger and despair. You meet strong female characters, based on real women, like Eliane and Rose, risking their lives for art. In the present time, the French Riviera provides a haven for Remy as she discovers how her past is entwined with the theft of art by the Nazis. The book is a page turner, and its easy to be swept up in both storylines. Also intriguing is the Instagram page that has been set up to show off the fabulous fashions worn and sold by Remy, a dealer in vintage fashion (@remysvintagecloset) There has seemingly been a number of World War 2 books written recently, but the slant that this one takes makes it worth reading. Maree, QLD, 4 Stars

Narrated in dual time lines The Riviera House is an absorbing read that focuses on the enormous lengths Parisian citizens went to to protect the art works that were being stolen by the German army during WWII. I really enjoyed Eliane’s story as she put herself in grave danger time and again to document the famous works of art ensuring that they would not be lost to the world forever. I was so engrossed in Lester’s imagined world that when it changes time lines I initially had a feeling of disappointment. However Remy’s story, set in 2015, is as equally engrossing as we delve into the mystery that surrounds Remy’s ancestors. The Riviera House is rich in sacrifice, loss, perseverance, tenacity and love all wrapped around the world of fine art. Veronica, NSW, 4 Stars

Natasha Lester doesn’t disappoint in The Riviera House. Her research is impeccable and as previous books, creates a instant atmosphere with her descriptions. In the 1939 section she amplifies the everyday person trying to survive in terrible situations and with moral predicaments. By comparison the relative straightforward storytelling of the current tale eases the reader forward. Lester weaves the two eras together expertly, creating a touching relevance to the new descriptions of family. The reader should come away considering what extremes they would go to for people they love. Barbara, WA, 4 Stars

Natasha Lester is a talented author who, through the pages of her stories, transports you back in time to an era that most people would prefer to forget. She has done it again with her latest book The Riviera House which is based on the true events that took place in World War II Paris when the Nazis invaded and set about to steal priceless artwork for themselves. Set across two timelines, the first being Paris during World War II, and the second in the present day, the story delves into the French art world and the lengths that members of the Resistance took in order to preserve the culture and history of the art that was being stolen and propels forward to the mystery of a painting that has been hanging on the wall of a Sydney home with the owner none the wiser as to its detailed past. Natasha worked her magic to weave the two-story lines together and created just enough suspense and intrigue to keep you guessing as to how the story would end. This is not only a remarkable book to read, it is also an important history lesson. I couldn’t put it down. Nicole, NSW, 4 Stars

Two captivating stories of courageous women experiencing love and loss, sumptuously painted in artistic language, “silence, thick as impasto, coated the gallery.” Set in the turbulent times of the Nazi occupation of Paris in World War Two, and the sunny and opulent present day French Riviera, the two parts of the story are starkly contrasting, but slowly the layers are peeled back until the connections between the past and present become apparent. The book is a love letter to art, “without art, we’re not truly alive” and the importance of art in our lives and society “civilisation was more than a mass of people, it was also the beautiful things that came from minds and hands and that touched hearts.” Based on a true story, it is at times hard to believe that events so repugnant as these could happen, and how people could endure them, but the characters here have been brought to life so vividly that it feels very real, so real that you can even follow Remy’s Instagram account @remysvintagecloset. An immersive page turner which has you wondering what is happening to the characters in each of the time periods, whilst you spend time in the other. Michelle, VIC, 4 Stars

The Riviera House by Natasha Lester combines romance with the historical events of Nazi art theft in Paris during the Second World War and our modern day protagonist recovering from personal tragedy on the French Riviera. In 1939, Éliane is helping catalogue and move treasured artworks….first from Paris to safety and after the invasion helping Nazis sort their plundered goods while continuing in the family brasserie, where Nazis come to wine, dine and talk. Along with Rose Valland and Monsier Jaujard, real life heroes, Éliane and her siblings gathers info crucial to tracking down these works at war’s end. She reencounters Xavier working (or not?) for her Nazi boss. An officer desires her and she must live by her wits and courage to survive poverty, hunger and intrigue. Meanwhile, in 2015, Remy is battling her own demons after an accident claims her husband and daughter. While recuperating in a mysterious house linked to her birth family, love comes knocking, literally from next door. The stories are linked by love and art, both of which help make the unbearable, bearable. The historical context is well researched and fascinating….the romance angle not so much to my taste. Lesley, SA, 3 Stars

The Riviera House is set in two separate timelines with two separate female leading characters. Wartime: Eliane Dufort works in the Lourve in Paris and falls for her brother’s friend Xavier. But then France is invaded, and her family is sent away, so she stays and works secretly on a mission to record stolen artworks from the Germans. Present day: Remy Lang is holidaying in Paris, hoping to escape the grief of losing her husband and daughter, when she comes across a record of artwork stolen during the war. It brings up a lot of questions for Remy, and she tries to uncover the truths. I quite enjoyed this novel, and although it isn’t my favourite of Natasha’s, it is beautifully told and a lot of research has gone into it and it is evident throughout the story. Natasha is a great story teller! Michelle, VIC, 3 Stars

I really wanted to like this book more than I did! I absolutely love historical fiction, and the plot about Nazis stealing art is such an interesting one. But I found this book to be so riddled with cliches, I was eye-rolling and scoffing more than I was invested in any of the characters or their stories. It reads like the kind of historical fiction someone might pick up and then be turned off historical fiction forever. But, I can see where there would be an audience for it, and perhaps if you wanted something thrilling and romantic and not too taxing, this would be a great book to choose. It just wasn’t for me unfortunately! Katrina, TAS, 2 Stars


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          Publisher details

          The Riviera House
          Natasha Lester
          01 September, 2021


          Paris, 1939 While working at the Louvre, Eliane Dufort falls for talented painter Xavier. But when the Nazis occupy the city, Xavier leaves for England and Eliane must send her sisters to the country. Broken-hearted, she finds herself working with the mysterious Rose Valland on a dangerous secret mission for the French Resistance: to record all the priceless national treasures the Germans are stealing. Present Day Desperate to escape her grief, Remy Lang arrives at a stunning private estate on 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 in Sydney. Who is her family, really? And does the Riviera 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.
          Natasha Lester
          About the author

          Natasha Lester

          Natasha Lester is the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris SeamstressThe French Photographer and The Paris Secret, and a former marketing executive for L'Oreal. Her novels have been translated into many different languages and are published all around the world. When she's not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, practising the art of fashion illustration and reading about history. Natasha is a sought-after public speaker and lives with her husband and three children in Perth, Western Australia.

          Books by Natasha Lester


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