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Tilar J. Mazzeo

Tilar J. Mazzeo is the New York Times bestselling author of several books on women, war, and luxury, including The Widow Clicquot, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, The Back Lane Wineries of Napa, The Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma, and, most recently, The Hotel on Place Vendôme.  

Tilar was born in the Florida west coast town of Port Charlotte, but grew up in picturesque Camden, Maine. In 2014, she emigrated to Saanichton, British Columbia, following her February 2013 marriage to Professor Robert Miles, chairman of the Department of English Literature at the University of Victoria, whose teaching interests include 19th-century English and American Romanticism.

Tilar has taught writing, literature, and literary/cultural theory at Colby College in Waterville, Maine since 2003, specializing, among other areas, in narrative non-fiction (especially historical biography) and the cultural history of Europe during the Second World War.  Her writing exercises have been published in venues including Write Now! and Creative Nonfiction for Everyone (on DVD with The Great Courses). 

Tilar also spent a number of years as a writer and teacher in New York City and in California, where she developed an expertise in wine and, later, scent.  She continues to write on North American wines for the international press, including Food & Wine magazine.


Exploring cultural icons

Her works of narrative nonfiction largely explore the stories behind cultural icons. In 2009, HarperCollins published Tilar’s book titled The Widow Clicquot, a New York Times bestselling business biography of the visionary young widow who built a champagne empire.  One year later, they published her book, The Secret of Chanel No. 5, an unauthorized biography of the world’s most famous perfume. 

In her most recent book, The Hotel on Place Vendôme, a history of the Hôtel Ritz in Paris during the German occupation, Tilar’s interests in France and the Second World War coincide.  Based on research conducted in Paris, London, Washington, D.C. and Berlin, The Hotel on Place Vendôme is the story of the diverse people who spent the occupation living cheek-by-jowl in rarified grandeur and, for many, in constant danger. 

She is currently working on a new biography of the Holocaust-era heroine Irena Sendler, who saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto and is often called “the female Schindler.”  Irena’s Children will be published in 2016 by Gallery, a division of Simon & Schuster.

For more information on Tilar and her books, see her website at or follow her updates on Twitter @tilarmaz.

Almost 70 years after the Second World War ended, the subject of collaboration with the Nazis by the elite of Parisian society is still a verboten subject. On at least one occasion, author Tilar Mazzeo was warned not to write about it. What happened at the Hôtel Ritz, where the German High Command set up headquarters in September 1940, should have been an easy story to tell in her new book titled, The Hotel on Place Vendôme. Instead French bureaucrats blocked her every attempt to find the hotel registry with the names of guests who had wined, dined and bed their Nazi captors. Now a best-selling, non-fiction author gives us a glimpse into the challenges of researching the dirty secrets of war.

Barman’s cocktail mix: Nazis on the rocks

Frank of the Ritz looked elegant and suave in his white bar coat and pince-nez, but he wasn’t afraid of getting his hands dirty when it came to working with the French Resistance against Nazi occupiers of his beloved Paris. Known to be a gambler, Frank, who was an Austrian of Jewish heritage, would both take and place bets on everything from horses races to current events, such as Charles Lindbergh’s first solo trans-Atlantic flight in May 1927. But that was nothing compared to the biggest gamble of his life when he got involved with the July 20, 1944 plot by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg to assassinate Adolph Hitler by planting a bomb at his command post in Prussia.


We have included an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Hotel On Place Vendôme — The Jewish Bartender and The German Resistance — courtesy of TILAR MAZZEO and HarperCollins Publishers.

[Author mixes non-fiction with champagne: See April 2, 2014 Notes From The Editor.]
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