By: Jeanne Mackn
Published Year: 2019
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion of this book.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel's are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli's bold, experimental, and surreal.
When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress--a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie's beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli's designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.
Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel's personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.
I received an offer for to review this book shortly after I finished (and loved) Park Avenue Summer. Because of that, I was a lot more open and excited for the more modern historical romances such as this one and Park Avenue Summer. I will say, that if I hadn’t just read PAS, I don’t think I would’ve accepted this book. The cover doesn’t speak to me at all. I don’t think I would’ve picked it up based on cover alone. So overall, not the best first impression, but decent.
What I thought
This book moved a little slow for my taste. It also was a lot more tied to art than I expected it to be, and seeing as that’s not an area I know a lot about or follow a lot, it wasn’t exactly the book for me.
Lilly is an aspiring artist who recently lost her husband. Her brother invites her to Paris for the summer where she meet design powerhouses, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli (AKA Schiap, pronounced Scap). Coco and Schiap are sworn enemies. Lilly ends up working for Schiap and doing some recon with Chanel, all while trying to find her way in Paris during the verge of WW2.
This book is told in three parts and each part is a color that ties into the part of the story. Seeing as that used to be my least favorite type of symbolism when reading books in high school, I was a little irritated initially. However, I was able to move past it and ignore it and just enjoy the story without reading too much into the colors. I will say, that at the beginning of the book the discussion of art and colors was a lot and I worried I wouldn’t be able to get past it. Luckily, it toned down as the book continued.
While I did enjoy the story and enjoyed learning about Chanel and Schiap and how their lives intertwined, the book moved too slowly for me. it took me a while to get through it, and even when traveling it wasn’t one that I wanted to pick up in every down moment. This became even more evident when I was reading my next book and finished it within 24 hours, whereas this one took me 10 days.
It’s definitely one of those stories that nothing much really happens. It’s just a story about Lilly’s life in Paris pre-WW2. There’s a little love, a little mystery, but it isn’t one big plot point that the reader is trying to follow. The saving grace of this story are the characters. They were fun to read about and that was why I was able to keep going with this book.