The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin released in June in the Historical Romance genre.
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.
An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.
Penguin Random House – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531859/the-last-collection-by-jeanne-mackin/
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.
This is a non spoiler review, because you as reader need to read this book. Also, I feel sometimes I have in the past gave away to much of the plot line. This has diminished the pleasure for would be readers
-To give away further plot would be to lessen the pleasure for readers
Set to the turbulent Paris as tensions builds as Germany and Hitler were on the move towards France. It was a dangerous time in history.
The novel follows Lily Sutter, an American teacher who travels to Paris to visit her brother. With her discerning eye for fashion, and her details for color, she inspires to become an artist. An invitation from her brother puts her on a path that will change her future. She renews a friendship with Schiap, who hires her to paint backdrops and vibrant window displays. That is only to cause more feed to the fire with just steps away are Chanel’s boutique and the Hotel Ritz.
Wonderful rich atmospheric imagery brings the historical fiction to life. Lily is a great heroine and I loved her unwavering passion for art. The two iconic fashion designers leap of the pages.
This was an enjoyable reading experience.
At the ball that night there were people whose faces I recognized, a blur of memory from my first evening in Paris at the Ritz, and many more people whom I didn’t recognize at all, men with military posture, women covered with jewels, men in dresses, women in tuxedos, ingénues in pastel gowns. And Charlie and Ania, beautiful Charlie and Ania, so immersed in each other’s gaze they could have been alone rather than dancing through crowded rooms.
…Coco arrived around eleven, in a diaphanous green gown that looked like fern fronds moving in a breeze when she moved. It was Coco, blending into nature, but still Coco.
Schiap arrived soon after, dressed, as she had promised, as a tree, covered in a rough brown cloth that looked like tree bark, with branches extending from her arms and the crown of her head. Several cloth and feather birds perched on her shoulders. Whimsical, humorous, always-make-it-look easy Schiap. Schiap got the louder applause when she made her entrance, and I saw Coco’s smile fade.
Who knew what was going through Coco’s mid that evening? Perhaps she had dreamed the night before of the orphanage, the father who had abandoned her and the mother who had died.
Perhaps she wasn’t thinking at all but only reacting, the way dry wood reacts when a match is put to it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.
Her historical fictions explore the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level. She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.
A Tale of Two Dresses
by Jeanne Mackin