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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

mademoiselle chanel

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner
ARC, e-Book, 416 pages
William Morrow
March 17, 2015
★★★★☆

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review for France Book Tours

"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 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."

Mademoiselle Chanel is author C.W. Gortner’s first foray into more of a contemporary historical fiction novel setting and he excels here just as he does elsewhere! Turn of the 20th century Paris is vastly different than the 16th century settings of his prior novels, but he brings it to brilliant life.

Gabrielle Chanel had a tough life growing up, but through persistence, hard work, and a little bit of luck, she was able to pull herself (and some of her family) up from poverty into the world where she rubbed elbows with duchesses and other elite. It was amazing seeing her entirely recreate herself and truly make her life her own – when it was pretty much a blank slate to begin with. She was a very interesting woman at a very different historical time. Women were just starting to break out of the stereotype roles – Chanel fought against a lot of adversity from men and other women as she sought to build her own shop/empire.

While Chanel was a powerhouse in her own right, her life does seem to have been delineated into chapters by the men in her life: her father, √Čtienne Balsan, Arthur “Boy” Capel, the Russian Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich, Duke of Westminster Hugh “Bendor” Grosvenor, and Paul Iribe. She wasn’t defined by these men, but they each brought something to the development of the Chanel brand and the woman herself. Some of these relationships were real emotional relationships while others were more of relationships of opportunity. It was fascinating the see this evolution.

Gortner’s descriptions of Paris, the convents, and the rich estates that Chanel moved through are beautiful and allow the reader to be able to visualize it in its entirety. I have never been to Paris and have not have much experience reading about this city or time period, so I do not have a lot of pre-conceived knowledge to work with, but I can picture each setting brilliantly.

Gortner also is magnificent at evoking emotions from his readers and that is present here as well. Chanel faces some losses in her life and I admit to shedding a few tears at least once – and I did not even know the characters for all that long! That is saying something!

While I can say that I still prefer Gortner’s 16th century novels, he is quite successful in the 20th as well!

If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia | Books-A-Million | iTunes | IndieBound

 

Also by C.W. Gortner:

the last queen

The Last Queen

confession of catherine

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
[My Review]

the queen's voq

The Queen’s Vow
[My Review]

tudor secret

The Tudor Secret (Book 1 Elizabeth I Spymaster trilogy)
[My Review]

tudor conspiracy

The Tudor Conspiracy (Book 2 Elizabeth I Spymaster trilogy)
[My Review]

tudor vendetta

The Tudor Vendetta (Book 3 Elizabeth I Spymaster trilogy)
[My Review]

About the Author:

Mademoiselle Chanel - CW Gortner_thumb[1]C.W. Gortner is the international bestselling author of six historical novels, translated in over twenty-five languages to date. His new novel, “Mademoiselle Chanel”, traces the tumultuous rise to fame of iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel. In 2016, Random House will publish his eighth novel, “Vatican Princess”, about Lucrezia Borgia.

Raised in Spain and a long-time resident of the Bay Area, C.W. is also dedicated to companion animal rescue from overcrowded shelters.

Find C.W. Gortner: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Subscribe to Gortner's Newsletter

Follow the Tour!

Mademoiselle Chanel banner

France Book Tours Webpage for Mademoiselle Chanel

Giveaway!

**Please note that these giveaways are tour-wide and the rules are set and giveaway hosted by the tour coordinator**

There are lots of great giveaways up for grabs on this tour!  To enter to win one of the following four prizes, please complete the giveaway form below.

Open to US only.

There will be 6 winners:

  • 5 printed copies
  • 1 beautiful, handcrafted beaded bracelet inspired by Coco’s black-and-white signature colors and camellia design
mademoiselle-chanel-bracelet-e1426264742316

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by The Maiden’s Court

3 comments:

  1. I love this author. I must read more by him.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Heather. Always such a pleasure to be here!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, Heather. Always such a pleasure to be here!

    ReplyDelete

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