Read advance reader review of The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin, page 2 of 6

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The Last Collection

A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

by Jeanne Mackin

The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin X
The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 352 pages

    Aug 2020, 368 pages


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There are currently 42 member reviews
for The Last Collection
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  • Gail L. (Dallas, TX)
    Paris Goes to war
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully written book of historical fiction. Paris, immediately before the German invasion becomes one of the characters. Color and art and fashion are principle themes. The story is interesting and entertaining. The book deals with war and loss without describing battles and battlefields. It presents a new perspective on a much discussed time in history.
  • Lin Z. (Downers Grove, IL)
    Art and Fashion in prewar Paris
    I loved this book! I particularly liked the use of art and color. I loved the language of the story and by using art, colors came alive. I never knew there were so many hues of blue! But I think I could "see" them through the author's description. The use of the character, Lily, bridges the gap between the rival fashion designers and the connected me to the world of art as well. Lily says, "Something moved in me that has been slumbering for two years. Color. So much color". Lily moved the story between Elsa and Coco with the ease that these two characters would not bridge alone. The setting in prewar Paris, gives the reader the chance to see how sides were taken, and what that cost the designers as well as the people of Paris in the end. "Men who persist in the belief that women in fashion are soft, sentimental creatures have never worked in the fashion industry."
  • Jeannette H. (Guymon, OK)
    Unique Historical Fiction Perspective
    I really enjoyed the fact that this book was from the perspective of someone experiencing World War II through its effect on Paris fashion and fashion icons. It's a new and unique take. The characters were well represented and the entire book encouraged me to look into the history of both Schiaparelli and Chanel. If you're into WWII historical fiction and are looking to learn, this is the book for you!
  • Shirley P. (Colorado Springs, CO)
    "The Last Collection...
    ...A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel"

    I really enjoyed reading this historical novel, starring real fashion icons of the 1930s and beyond. The narrator, Lily, is the fictional character that pulls together the verifiable stories of Elsa and Coco. The writing is excellent with vivid imagery and the thematic recurring palette of colors reflecting nature, moods and most of all fashion.

    The two disparate fashion designers histories, who for better or worse, are more similar than they liked to admit, reflect the world they live in and design up to and including the Second World War. Because of the refusal of designers to move their salons to Berlin from Paris, it was a blow to Hitler and a point of pride for the fallen Paris.

    I found both ladies to be fascinating as well as Lily's story and her interaction with Elsa and Coco. I think this is a book for those who like history, especially around the pivotal WWII and find fashion fascinating.
  • Dorinne D. (Wickenburg, AZ)
    A Book for Fashionistas!
    I absolutely loved this book! If you are interested in the fashion world, the art world, and/or Paris, you will love this book too. The protagonist, Lily, is an artist and recently widowed, and struggling with her grief over the accidental death of her young husband. She receives a message from her brother to come to Paris because he needs her. She goes to Paris at her brother's request and to escape from the persistent memories of her late husband that surround her in their home in London. It is 1938 and the Germans are beginning to move into France as part of their operations to take over all of Europe. The novels involves Lily's interaction with fashion designers, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, their intense rivalry, the relationship of all three of them with the German military men living in Paris, and the ominous threat of the impending occupation of France by Germany. An interesting treatment in the book is the division into three separate parts, with the introduction to each part relating it to a primary color. Part One is Blue, Part Two is Red and Part Three is Yellow. The colorful descriptions at the beginning of each Part relate to the characters and to the world in which they are living. I really enjoyed the way the author used color throughout the book, even to the very last line in the book.
  • Barbara B. (Holbrook, NY)
    Fascinating Rivalry
    Excellent story of the legendary designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and their intense back and forth fight for the top designer in Paris. Such different styles they both have and then enters a young widow who gets ensnared in their escalating war with one another. The historical backdrop makes this book not only entertaining but a learning experience. It is a fast read and I highly recommend it.
  • Borderlass (Belmont, MA)
    A Moving Yet Entertaining Story...
    Jeanne Mackin's latest novel provides its readers a moving yet entertaining story... With a historically-accurate backdrop of the time period surrounding the Paris fashion world during the lead-up to WW II as well as the war's aftermath, the story itself features Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli's rivalry. Mackin cleverly interweaves both factual and imagined scenarios in this microcosm of their years of competion and outright conflict... The protagonist - a young and newly widowed American schoolteacher - draws on the readers' sympathies as her life in Paris moves her into the worlds of fashion, art, and political uncertainty...

    This would be a good read for an individual or book group seeking a fun romp with some historical significance and some ensuing foreseeable discussion...

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