This book was an example of substance winning out over style. I read (and enjoyed) this book despite the pedestrian prose, the predictable dialog, and the horrific cover design. It’s refreshing to know that sometimes even I can get beyond the things that irritate me and just enjoy a good story.
This is an account of a year in the life of Isabelle Varlet, a fictional seamstress who works in Coco Chanel’s atelier in 1919, a year that was pivotal in Chanel’s career. We follow Isabelle as she makes her way from the provinces to
I really enjoyed reading about Isabelle at work, about Chanel’s creative process, and about the world of couturier fashion. The book is filled with interesting details about clothing construction, about the hierarchy and the relationships among the women who work for Chanel, and about life in
Gioia Diliberto is good at picking out historical footnotes and turning them into interesting novels. I read her first novel, I am Madame X, a few years ago. That book is a fictionalized account of the life of the woman who posed for the beautiful John Singer Sargant painting called Portrait of Madame X. The book came out around the same time as Girl with a Pearl Earring, a similarly themed book, which got a lot more press. I think I am Madame X was a better book than The Collection.
(Book 53, 2007)