Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway: Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

Author C.W. Gortner

on Tour March 20-April 8, 2015 with

Mademoiselle Chanel 

Mademoiselle Chanel

(historical fiction) Release date: March 17, 2015 at William-Morrow/HarperCollins 384 pages ISBN: 978-0062356406


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. 


"My life didn't please me, so I created my life" (Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel).  This epigraph sets the perfect tone for Mademoiselle Chanel.  

The book begins with Gabrielle Chanel's childhood.  Her family is poor, and after the death of her mother, Gabrielle and her sisters are sent to a convent school.  From her early years, Gabrielle has a gift for sewing, and she has ambition to make something of her life.

As Gabrielle works as a seamstress and sometime chanteuse, she takes on the nickname Coco and attracts the attention of a wealthy man ... and then her fortune begins to change.

It is fascinating to read of Coco's early work as a milliner and then the beginnings of her sleek, modern fashions.  I loved the descriptions in the book of her early shops and her meticulous attention to detail (not just with her clothes but also with the stores that showcased them).

I knew only the most basic details of Coco Chanel's life before reading Mademoiselle Chanel, and did not realize how much she changed fashion for women, moving away from corsets and the very busy Edwardian look to simple, elegant clothes that were designed for wearability as well as beauty.

The period details in this book are exceptional.   For instance, during World War I, "The shattering of the windows sent everyone racing for cover across the Place Vendome to the basements of the Ritz, which were equipped with a fully stocked bar, gas masks, and Hermes sleeping bags."

I found the details and descriptions of 1920's Paris particularly interesting.  The author, C.W. Gortner, has a gift for rich descriptions that are a joy to read.

Coco Chanel was a fascinating, complicated woman.  Mademoiselle Chanel captures her life in a way that readers are sure to enjoy, especially if they like historical fiction and novels about strong women.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to other readers as well.


CW GortnerC.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. Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter Subscribe to his newsletter Buy the book: HarperCollins | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

You can enter the giveaway here or on the book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below.


Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] 6 winners Open to US only: 5 printed copies + 1 beautiful, handcrafted beaded bracelet inspired by Coco’s black-and-white signature colors and camellia design Mademoiselle Chanel bracelet


Mademoiselle Chanel banner

 I received a copy of this book from France Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Anonymous said...

thanks for your detailed review. I'm glad you liked it. Great writer! and what a woman! Emma at FBT

Carl Scott said...

I just got a copy of Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran. It's about Queen Lakshmi of India who fought against the British during the colonial period. I haven't read it yet but I'm going to very soon. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review. I was familiar with her only through her trend setting ways. I never knew or heard anything regarding her private life. I think this will be a fascinating story. I just started reading Mary Pickford's life story.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you for your lovely review. Bloggers are an author's word of mouth these days and I'm very honored by your praise.

Birdhouse Books said...

C.W. Gortner, thank you so much for visiting! I really loved this novel, and look forward to reading your other books as well.