About the Book:
A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever
Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family at a young age, they’ve grown up under the guidance of nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.
The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a boutique business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns.
But the sisters’ lives are again thrown into turmoil when World War I breaks out, forcing them to make irrevocable choices, and they’ll have to gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.
I am in love with the cover of this book, and I found The Chanel Sisters very interesting! It is a well-written historical fiction, and the story is told from the point of view of the middle Chanel sister, Antoinette. Readers get a glimpse at the beginnings of the Chanel fashion house as well as the sister’s humble childhood and later romantic escapades.
The story provides a lot of information about Gabrielle (Coco) not only as it pertains to her younger sister, Antoinette, but also about their growing business and various romantic dalliances. Gabrielle, not Antoinette, shrewdly used her wealthy and generous lovers to her advantage in terms of developing and growing her business. There is just enough information about their younger sister Julia and the rest of the family to give you a taste of the struggles they experienced. Not surprisingly, much of Antoinette’s story is surmised as historically, there was little documentation on women’s lives.
I loved the details of Gabrielle’s creativity and Antoinette’s technical ability. With every mention of a new hat or dress, I was looking up photos and drawings for reference. The sisters’ yearning for “something better” tugged at my heartstrings. Their desire to rise above the low expectations given to them at the orphanage is understandable. Beyond the exploration of the Chanel sisters, Ms. Little’s book provides a look at the mores of various social classes. I would have appreciated more details about the impact of the war on the Chanel business, but overall, the book is clearly well researched. An added bonus is the brief story about the development of the iconic Chanel 5 parfum.
Overall an engaging and easy to digest historical fiction with added appeal to any fashionista.
About the Author: JUDITHE LITTLE is the award-winning author of Wickwythe Hall. She earned a BA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She grew up in Virginia and now lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas.
SOCIAL LINKS: http://www.judithelittle.com/ | Instagram: @judithelittle | FB: @judithe.little