Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner Recaptures The Life Of The First Businesswoman

Featured

MC cover

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was the world’s first businesswoman. Rising from the bottom, Chanel used her innate ingenuity and work-ethic to build one of the most recognisable and successful businesses ever. To paraphrase Chanel, she created her life because she was unhappy with it. Despite all of this, however, jealous competitors and misogynists have attempted to slander her legacy. The time has finally come that Coco Chanel is done justice, and that has come with C.W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel.

Gabrielle Chanel was born in Saumur, France into deep poverty to a deadbeat father and a physically ill mother. This loneliness only got worse after her mother died when Gabrielle turned 12 and when she was sent to Aubazine, a convent. Gabrielle turned her despair into application and effort when she learned the sewing at the convent and where the sisters helped turn her passion into a successful work venture.

At the age of 18 Chanel was sent to live at the boarding school in Moulins. While in Moulins she both pursued sewing and stage performing, which is when she became “Coco”, based off of the popular song  “Qui qu’a vu Coco”. In 1906, after failing to find success as a stage singer in Vichy, she returned to Moulins dedicated to her sewing.

Moulins was where Coco met the ex-military officer and aristocrat Etienne Balsan, and where she became his mistress. Coco replaced famous courtesan Emilienne d’Alencon, who ironically later became something of a business asset for Chanel, for Balsan, and there never really was any love shared between Chanel and Balsan. This time, however, brought Chanel to realize that her fate was to put her entire being into her work, despite all of the negatives Balsan said to her about it. This is the time when Chanel also learned the foreign but fine art of making powerful friends.

IMG_2253

Some of the research I did for this review: Sampling Chanel No. 5, Coco, and Bleu de Chanel.

In 1908 Chanel began an affair with Arthur “Boy” Capel, one of Balsan’s friends. Chanel found a new feeling, something that she had never felt before, with Capel: love. This relationship also proved to be one of business as well, which put Chanel’s talent together with Capel’s money to open her first boutique at 21 rue Cambon Paris, which really put Chanel’s effort and determination into tangible results.

Boutiques in Deauville and Biarritz opened subsequently, which is the period when many influential people saw Chanel’s fashion as revolutionary and loved it. 1919 marked the most tragic event of her life when Boy was killed in an automobile accident. In 1921 Coco opened the first modern boutique at 31 rue Cambon and just 6 years later owned almost the entire rue Cambon. Continuing the rise that Chanel was taking, she made business contacts with Pierre Wertheimer, who introduced her Chanel No. 5 perfume in his department stores but who Chanel referred to as the “bandit who screwed me.”

Chanel worked her way into association with the British aristocracy in 1923 and for the next decade continued close relationships with it. Chanel closed her shops at the advent of World War II and the occupation of Paris, and in 1947 became one of the richest women in the world with a new profits deal with the Parfums Chanel line.

After having moved to Switzerland in 1945, Chanel returned to Paris in 1954. With her reemergence came her greatest popularity in Britain and America, which continues now all around the world. Coco Chanel died in 1971.

IMG_2246

Les parfums de Chanel- Photo credit to Seize the Moment.

Now, with this background stated, we can delve into Gortner’s writing:

First, let us look at the great understanding of Chanel’s personality and spirit Gortner shows in this book. We understand that Chanel, growing up unstable and lonely, learned that money is true freedom. We also learn that Chanel neither hated men nor believed women to be superior; she was simply fiercely independent and determined to build her own life, not to be taken care of. The greatest thing Gortner succeeds in showing about Chanel’s personality is that she was constituted of great determination, which both helped her build the Chanel empire but also made many jealous, which was a great source of loneliness for Coco. Gortner really became Chanel herself, not the grand icon Chanel, not the stoic businesswoman. He wrote of the true, everyday, and genuine Coco Chanel, which is more important to her legacy than anything else.

Next, we must address how Gortner describes the setting around Chanel’s life. Gortner is a master of developing both multi-layered characters and environments in his novels, but Mademoiselle Chanel brings this skill to another level. Whether it be the forests of rural France or the urban streets of Paris, Gortner brings to life the world Coco Chanel lived in, which adds an aspect into understanding the legend, her era, and her work.

Finally Mademoiselle Chanel is a kind of biography that really hasn’t been seen before. In the same vein as Jack Kennedy, Chanel is unique in that no one can ever truly and completely understand every aspect of her life. Gortner, with great skill and intellect, recognises this and doesn’t attempt to achieve the impossible. Instead, he takes on what I consider to be a more daunting task: writing a biography that shows the genuine Coco Chanel and wanting us to base our opinions of the icon on that truth. Gortner achieves this magnificently, and makes Mademoiselle Chanel ingenious and revolutionary, just as Coco Chanel’s life was.

As intoxicating as the jasmine aromas of Chanel No. 5 and as revolutionary as the Little Black Dress, C. W. Gortner’s Mademoiselle Chanel reclaims the legacy of the world’s first businesswoman and shows the genuine Coco Chanel.

Mademoiselle Chanel, Synopsis~

(historical fiction)

Release date: March 17, 2015
at William-Morrow/HarperCollins

384 pages

ISBN: 978-0062356406

For readers of “The Paris Wife” and “Z” comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.

An enthralling novel of an extraordinary designer who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark.

Author Biography: C.W. Gortner

CW Gortner

C.W. Gortner is the international bestselling author of six historical novels, translated in over twenty-five languages to date.

His new novel, Mademoiselle Chanel, traces the tumultuous rise to fame of iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel.

In 2016, Random House will publish his eighth novel, “Vatican Princess”, about Lucrezia Borgia.

Raised in Spain and a long-time resident of the Bay Area, C.W. is also dedicated to companion animal rescue from overcrowded shelters.

Visit his website. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to his newsletter

Buy the book: HarperCollins | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY / GIVEAWAY / GIVEAWAY

You can enter the giveaway here or on the book blogs participating in this tour (just click on the badge below to follow the stops on the tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook; they are listed in the entry form below.

Click on “Entry-Form” below to enter:

Entry-Form

Visit each blogger on the tour: tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form]

6 winners and open to US only:
5 printed copies + 1 beautiful, handcrafted beaded bracelet inspired by Coco’s
black-and-white signature colors and camellia design

Mademoiselle Chanel bracelet

Click on the banner here to follow the other stops on the tour:

Mademoiselle Chanel banner

Advertisements

Guest Post From Donald Michael Platt, Author Of Close To The Sun

Today I have a guest post from Donald Michael Platt, author of Close To The Sun. Mr. Platt has had a long career in teaching and writing, and I look forward to sharing a post penned by him. He has now begun to write many new novels in genres including historical and military fiction, and I hope that this post helps you learn more about the man behind the books.

Guest Post From Donald Michael Platt:

I thank you Nassem Al-Mehairi for inviting me to post on your blog.

I have loved reading about History since first memory and later immersing myself in Historical Fiction by age eight. If I saw a swashbuckler film first, I wanted to read the book it was based on and non-fiction to learn how much was true. No Tom Sawyer for me, I preferred Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, both of which were made into films.

I bypassed Dickens, Johnny Tremaine, and the Hardy Boys for writers from the so-called Golden Age of HF. Many of their novels were made into films when I was a boy into my early Teens:

Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood, The Black Swan, and Scaramouche
Samuel Shellabarger’s Captain from Castile and The Prince of Foxes –
Thomas Costain’s The Black Rose
Frank Yerby’s The Foxes of Harrow, The Golden Hawk, and The Saracen Blade—Edison Marshall’s novel Benjamin Blake became the film Son of Fury and others that made it to cinema included Yankee Pasha and The Viking –

And at age twelve I even read Kathleen Windsor’s Forever Amber. All the HF and non-HF I have read since then would fill many pages.

Continuing my love of History, I earned my B.A. in History at U.C. Berkeley and taught it as well. Able to write in several genres and media, film and TV, I decided the time had come for me to try HF.

Although my first published novel A Gathering of Vultures was contemporary horror, I included some history about worship of vultures going back to ca, 7,000 BC.

Little known historical characters who led exceptional lives have always interested me. I wanted to know more about them, but often no information existed to fill the gaps and satisfy my curiosity. That is why I wrote my first HF novels Rocamora and House of Rocamora based on the life of Vicente de Rocamora. a sparsely documented historical personage who went from Dominican ( the monastic Order that controlled the Inquisition) royal confessor and spiritual director for the teenage teenage Infanta of Spain and sister of Philip IV to at age 46 a Jewish physician in Amsterdam, married a twenty-five year old woman who would give him nine children over the next eleven years.

Another historical personage who appears in my next novel to be published in September of this year is Bodo, the Apostate, as described in this blurb for the back cover:

“… in the meantime, a credible report caused all ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church to lament and weep.” Prudentius of Troyes, Annales Bertiniani, anno 839

On Ascension Day May 22, 838, Bishop Bodo, chaplain, confessor, and favorite of both his kin, Emperor Louis the Pious, son of Charlemagne, and Empress Judith, caused the greatest scandal of the Carolingian Empire and the 9th century Roman Church.

My novel, Bodo the Apostate, dramatizes the causes, motivations, and aftermath of Bodo’s astonishing cause célèbre that took place during an age of superstitions, a confused Roman Church, heterodoxies, lingering paganism, broken oaths, rebellions, and dissolution of the Carolingian Empire.

About my novel published this past June 15th,, 2014, Close to the Sun follows the lives of two Americans and a German from childhood through the end of WWII. As boys, they idealize the exploits of WWI fighter aces known as chivalrous Knights of the Skies.

Hank Milroy from Wyoming learns his first flying lessons from observing falcons. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen accumulated during WWI. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field. The young men meet exceptional women. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe believes she is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German intelligence. Elfriede “Elfi” Wohlmann is a frontline nurse. Mimi Kay sings with a big band.

Flying fighters over Europe, Hank, Karl, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat victories and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and firebombing of entire cities. Callous political decisions and military mistakes add to their disillusion, especially one horrific tragedy at the end of the war.

Why did I write Close to the Sun? A sentient boy during WWII, I admired the fighter aces and their sleek planes. Over time I was given access to many documents from both the Allies and the Axis, and I met and conversed with aces from the USAAF, the RAF, and the Luftwaffe. A novel formed in my mind and I sat down to write.

I wanted to create a fictional USAAF fighter group and its squadrons for my fictional composite American characters against a realistic background. It took some time to find numbers that had not been used. For the Luftwaffe, I chose to use historical unit and bases.

My next challenge was to create composite characters. I wanted the two Americans to represent country and city, with a secondary character who had all the negative traits of certain fighter aces. I found it easier for purposes of the novel to make the Luftwaffe ace an aristocrat. The history of the air war over Europe carried the narrative.

I did not want Close to the Sun to be an all-male story, so I added four female characters. Winty McCabe was easy to create because she was the embodiment of all women who wanted to fly and who served as a WASP, Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. A Russian princess who worked with the anti-Nazi faction in the Abwehr, German Intelligence, gave me the inspiration for Mariya-Xenia. Given that some U.S. fighter aces wed actresses and big band singers, after a while I came up with the singer streetwise Mimi Kay. Last of all, I added Elfie, a German combat nurse for purposes of story.

My publisher has asked me for a sequel to Close to the Sun, which I have begun, and many more HF novels have been written in my mind.

20140906-223953.jpg

Donald Michael Platt, Biography~

Author of five novels Rocamora, House of Rocamora, A Gathering of Vultures, Close To The Sun, and Bodo, the Apostale, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST.

Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.

After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A Gathering Of Vultures, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic.

Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and writing a sequel to Close To The Sun.

Books By Donald Michael Platt:

20140906-224924.jpg

20140906-224940.jpg

20140906-224959.jpg

20140906-225015.jpg

Visit Mr. Platt at: http://donaldmichaelplatt.com/, and watch his YouTube video at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6OtI