Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick

I asked and received this book through NetGalley for free. This review is not sponsored nor influenced in anyway. Thanks to Random House for the book.

First impression 

I've always been interested on the lives of women that had somehow (for good or for bad) changed the course of history. Coco Chanel is one of these women. I've already read The Gospel according to Coco Chanel and loved it, so given the opportunity to get to know more of her life beyond the pearls I couldn't let it pass. As I finished reading Mademoiselle I have for certain learn more about the person she was and how she got to the position she ended up, however I was not expecting so much information on the lovers she had and other people around her.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed the first chapters, where we learn about her childhood, shedding a lot of light on her character as well as her perseverance to become a success. However, as the she grew older and hence started having men in her life, at times it felt like this was the only subject. I understand that being who she was it is hard to separate her life from that of her companions but since I was expecting a bit more of the world around her and no the men around her this came as extra information that, while well researched and interesting at times, would not help me know the character of Chanel better. And then again, when it came to Igor Stravinsky it almost felt like a brushing by for him. All other men got almost full chapters and him? He felt like an extra thought.

With a title such as "The Pulse of History" I was expecting to learn (or re learn at times) about her role during the wars, and in this I was not disappointed. The book shows a whole different Chanel than the elegant, always poised woman I've had in my head for long time. Reading about her being ruthless not only with herself, but everyone around her, particularly with her own family made me see her on a completely different light. I assumed that rising to as much as she did was not easy, and I assumed she had to step on a lot of toes...but man, she was so cruel at times.

The book, as I mentioned, it is very well researched. Unfortunately, since this was only a uncorrected proof the footnotes were not already inserted on the corresponding page, but they are all there, along with a complete bibliography. It also includes a fair amount of graphic information, not only with pictures but documents and other.

The other reason why I gave this book only 3 out of 5 is because several times it felt repetitive and even redundant on its views and anecdotes about Chanel. While I understand that with a nonfiction book is not an option to have plot twists, repeating the same story in several chapters gets boring. 

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