For readers of The Paris Wife and Z comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.Read more...
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For readers of The Paris Wife and Z comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and become one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.
Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to orphanage after their mother s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.
Transforming herself into Coco a seamstress and sometime torch singer the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.
Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.
An enthralling novel of an extraordinary woman who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-12
- Reviewer: Staff
The formidable task of telling the rags-to-riches story of fashion doyenne Coco Chanel is almost pulled off in this lengthy book by historical novelist Gortner (The Tudor Vendetta). We learn of her father who abandoned his five children, that Gabrielle Chanel’s first entry into fashion was as a milliner, how she came to be called “Coco,” the birth of the Chanel logo, the origin of her famous perfume—named for test-sample bottle number five; and her creation of the famous “little black dress.” Here, too, are the legendary artists and politicians who peopled her fabulous life—Cocteau, Stravinsky, Picasso, Churchill, to name a few—as well as her tumultuous relationships with a handful of financially successful men. And then there is her life during the German occupation of France, living at the Ritz, no less, where she had a liaison with a high-ranking German officer (Hans Gunther von Dincklage) leaving some questions about the nature of her true sympathies during WWII. Despite the colossal amount of facts we have about Chanel’s life, we never get a real sense of the woman who turned fashion upside down in the 1920s, whether because the story is told in first person, or because the urgency to cover a voluminous amount of material leaves us with plenty of information but not enough heart and soul to get at the core of who this charismatic woman really was. (Mar.)