Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: The Chanel Sisters
Author: Judithe Little
Book Series: Standalone
Recommended For…: historical fiction, fashion, Chanel
Publication Date: December 29, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Recommended Age: 16+ (grief, romance, sexual content)
Publisher: Graydon House
Synopsis: Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious 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 business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.
Review: For the most part I thought the book was pretty good. It felt well researched and I liked the voice of the narrator. I felt the book was well written, the characters well developed, and the world building was solid.
However, I did feel like the book felt more like a nonfiction than a fiction book. The book also glossed over Chanel’s involvement with Nazis and her time in occupied Paris was not mentioned. The author’s note addressed it, but the omission of it felt like hiding a lie. I feel like we do that sometimes with historical figures. We gloss over the bad and honor the good. But no one is without fault. Even Mother Theresa did bad and evil things. If we’re going to talk candidly about someone, we should talk about their whole being and not just the cherry picked parts.
Verdict: It was good, but not a total account.