January 5, 2021
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Siblings, WW1
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I’m delighted to take part in the Fall 2020 Blog Tours for Historical Fiction From Harlequin Trade Publishing! Thanks for the invitation. Thanks #Netgalley #HarlequinPublishing @HarperCollins for an electronic complimentary copy of #TheChanelSisters for review. All opinions are my own.
Raised in a strict convent orphanage, the Chanel sisters, Gabrielle (“Coco”) and Antoinette, know that they are destined for something better. They hide romantic novels and fashion magazines from strict nuns as they envision a different life. When they age out of the orphanage, Gabrielle and Antoinette set out to create a life for themselves, hoping desperately to leave their poverty behind. Finally, they establish a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris. As their fashionable and well made hats gain popularity, WW1 breaks out. Ultimately, they go their separate ways as they continue to courageously find their own places in the world.
Point of View: The engaging story of The Chanel Sisters is told from Antoinette’s perspective. Very little is known about her, so Antoinette’s portion of the story is highly imagined. I enjoyed this perspective because it shows the important contributions of the lesser known sister.
Likable Characters: I enjoyed both Antoinette and Gabrielle (“Coco”) and their remarkable and heartbreaking story. They are determined and work hard to create their own luck. I love that Gabrielle redesigns the uniforms they are required to wear in the convent orphanage. I love that they reread the same romantic novel over and over and that they keep a secret collection of fashion cutouts from magazines as inspiration. I love Gabrielle’s ability during the war to create fashion from plain gray jersey. I love that Gabrielle is ahead of her time, an out-of-the-box thinker, and a confident trend setter (she remarks when criticized about not following trends that SHE sets the trends!). I love their devotion to each other and appreciate the 360 degree look at their lives–their childhood, the business (hats, clothing, and perfume), and their romances.
Chanel jersey casual wear 1917
Setting: We are transported to the years between 1897 and 1921, and the time and place are well detailed and excellently described.
Themes: Thoughtful themes include “rags to riches,” determination, hard work, sibling loyalty, class (“elegantes” vs the poor), trend setting, forward thinking, creativity, confidence, resourcefulness, and risk-taking.
Chanel suit and silk blouse 1965
A Coco Chanel trend…the little black dress 2011
Genre: You know I love the histfic genre! I love learning more about the Chanel sisters, especially that they came from a large, poor family and that they were trendsetters in running their own business and designing comfortable clothing for women.
Recommended: I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating story, and I’m highly recommending The Chanel Sisters for readers who love character-driven and page-turning histfic, for those who enjoy stories about inspirational and trendsetting women, for fans of fashion, and for book clubs.
Coco Chanel in 1928
Coco Chanel in 1970
***Edited to add: Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog mentions in comments that Coco Chanel is rumored to have been an anti-Semite who spied for the Nazis in WW11. Here is some information on the controversy. The book does not address this controversy. Be assured, I would never promote antisemitism or participate in any way, so if the review of Chanel Sisters is in at all offensive to anyone reading this post, I’m truly sorry.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Judithe Little
Judithe Little grew up in Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. After a brief time studying in France and interning at the U.S. Department of State, she earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow. She lives with her husband and three children in Houston, Texas.
Is The Chanel Sisters on your TBR or have you read it?
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