MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jun 2019, 352 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. At the heart of this novel is this question: how do we continue to live fulfilling private lives in a society that is doing its best to divide us, politically and culturally? Pre–World War II Paris was full of dichotomies, the most obvious being the choice between communism and fascism. What other divisions do you see in this story? Do you see parallels to today?
  2. When Lily fell in love with Otto, she realized that she was, in fact, falling in love with a man who would be fighting against her own country, perhaps even her own brother. How did she make her peace with this terrible choice?
  3. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli disagreed on what patriotism required of them during the German occupation of Paris. Chanel decided to close her couture salon and lay off her workers rather than sell her clothes to the occupying Germans. Schiap chose to keep her salon and to continue to pay as many of her workers as possible, even though it meant welcoming German officers into the shop. Which decision would you have made and why?
  4. The narrator, Lily, had strong emotional reactions to different colors. Lilies are often associated with the color white, which is the sum of all color wavelengths, not, as some people think, the absence of all color. (If you shine the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow on a white paper, you'll see white where the colors overlap.) What influence did the love of color have on Lily?
  5. What are your emotional responses to color? Do you have a favorite color that always lightens your mood? Is there a color you try to avoid? What events in your life might have helped form those preferences?
  6. There were many differences between Chanel and Schiaparelli, some reinforced by their rivalry and animosity toward each other. Chanel, for instance, insisted that as a couturier she was a craftswoman, while Schiap insisted that couturiers were artists. Do you think couture fashion is art? Have you visited a museum where clothing was being exhibited, and what did you think of the exhibit?
  7. daughter, Gogo, came down with polio just when Schiap, abandoned by her husband, had to learn how to work and support herself and her daughter. She had to work long hours and spent days, even weeks, away from her child when Gogo needed her the most. How do you think this affected their relationship?
  8. Why do you think Chanel invented a story about being educated in a convent rather than admitting to having been raised in an orphanage after her mother died and her father abandoned the family?
  9. If you could wear clothing from any time or any place, what would you choose?
  10. When Lily was in a period of great grief, she stopped caring about her appearance. What do you think is the relationship between clothes and our emotions?
  11. The novel is structured in three sections, one for each primary color. How does the action in each section reflect Lily's emotional response to that particular color?
  12. There are several love stories in this novel. Which one affected you the most? Why?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
    The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
    by Michael Zapata
    In the 1920s, Adana Moreau, a Dominican immigrant living in New Orleans, begins writing a gloriously...
  • Book Jacket: The Glass Hotel
    The Glass Hotel
    by Emily St. John Mandel
    Vincent—a young woman named for American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay—is ...
  • Book Jacket: Saint X
    Saint X
    by Alexis Schaitkin
    In the opening pages of her debut novel, Alexis Schaitkin introduces the reader to an idyllic beach ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bear
    The Bear
    by Andrew Krivak
    The Bear feels like a novel I've been awaiting for years. I received the book and its message with ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    I Want You to Know We're Still Here
    by Esther Safran Foer

    "A vivid testimony to the power of memory."
    - Kirkus (starred review)
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Afterlife
    by Julia Alvarez

    "A gorgeously intimate portrait of...hope in the face of personal grief."
    -- O, The Oprah Magazine
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Henna Artist
by Alka Joshi

The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Mostly Dead Things

Mostly Dead Things
by Kristen Arnett

"Hilarious, deeply morbid, and full of heart."
- BuzzFeed

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

E, My D W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.