Author C.W. Gortneron Tour March 20-April 8, 2015 with
William-Morrow/HarperCollins 384 pages ISBN: 978-0062356406
SYNOPSISFor 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 became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century. Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an 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 designer 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.
I had recently read a biography about Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel so the timing of this tour was perfect for me and I was excited to begin. I love historical fiction and what better to read a book about the mysterious and groundbreaking Coco. Since I had recently read that biography I was up on my Coco facts and Gortner hit them perfectly but also did a fantastic job of making the story flow and Coco come alive. I can see her as a little girl desperate to believe in her father or as a woman determined to make a success of her business and stop having to turn to others for support. Not only did Gortner make Coco come alive but he made her wonderfully and realistically multi-faceted. Coco is very rarely likable but she is always fascinating and inspiring. She is stubborn and determined and doesn't always make the best decisions. She is truly groundbreaking in terms of her ideas on women's fashion and it's such fun to watch her start to claw her way to success. There was a moment in the book that was definitely a light bulb moment for me. Coco is standing in the doorway of her store with an employee and watching several women walk past who are wearing her designs and they look at her and nod in acknowledgement which causes great shock. Before Coco, the great designers (and we're talking Worth here so seriously great!) were not acknowledged. Their clothes were worn but the men were not celebrities accepted into upper circles. But because Coco was a woman in a way it leveled the playing field of society. Not only was she dressing them but she was as stylish as them. They were coming to her for help which made her their equal in a way she could never have been if she had been a male. Gortner explains it much more neatly but I found the whole concept fascinating. Even if you don't have any interest in fashion Mademoiselle Chanel is a book worth reading and Coco is a woman worth getting to know.