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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
Coco Chanel: A Biography (Bloomsbury Lives of Women)
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2010
Fascinated by Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and an avid biography reader, I couldn't wait to get my hands on this.

Unfortunately, I was ultimately disappointed; Spanning decades of World Wars and huge political changes, Coco Chanel was a breath of (very chic) fresh air and I expected to be taken on an exciting ride along the waves of high fashion - her designs, her intimate personal life secrets, her inspirations - and though some of this was evident, it mainly felt like a hotch-potch of very relevant facts of interest and superfluous information regarding the 'players' of her life. I just didnt see how it was relevant to detail two or three paragraphs on the heritage of, say, who she hired to defend herself in one of her many Court battles or who the sister's mother of one of her many beau's was once married to! It drove me mad! There was just too much hyper-detailed information on non-relevant aspects of her life and for this reason, I found it hard work. The writing was often unclear; the sentance construction clumsy as a result of too many words!

Though clearly AM has done lots of research and provides a very comprehensive read-around, the main aspects seem to have been missed. There wasn't enough about the fashions, the fabrics, the make up of 'Chanel', and huge chunks were simply missed out - she went from opening a store to employing thousands in the space of a couple of chapters.
Worth a read, certainly, but I will be looking for more work about the life of this icon in order to gain a better insight...
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on 11 March 2010
I was interested in reading more about coco Chanels life after watching the film 'Coco before Chanel'.
I found this book really heavy and a struggle to read in some places. I felt it gave me facts that i really didn't want to know, about other people and situations that i felt were drifting of from Chanel.
It had some nice pictures and i did learn a great deal about this fasinating women, although i did 'skip through' parts of this book that didn't interest me.
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on 24 November 2009
They say it is better to be born lucky than rich. After an inauspicious start, Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel (what a beautiful name) found herself in the right place at the right time. Through her strength of character - for she certainly was a survivor - and her own skill and uncompromising attitude to fashion and life generally, she made it to the top of her profession.
Names you will recognise and some you may not, trip easily from the pages. I found the description of the war years particularly interesting. The author clearly has researched this book very well. He gives 27 pages of notes on sources and another six for the bibliography. The photographs are very much an added bonus. There seem to be one or two small proof reading errors e.g. Page 290, Pierre Wertheimer's Derby winner is stated as "Lavandin" whereas the photograph caption states "Lanvin". Unless his horses won more than once (I am not a racing expert) this would seem to be an error. However, don't let this put you off as Axel Madsen has done a fabulous job and I enjoyed the book very much.
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on 19 February 2013
I am a big fan of Coco Chanel. I watched three movies about her life and I found it very fascinating. So I decided to read this biography of her life. The beginning of the book is quite interesting and readable. However, after a few chapters the author goes very much into details (historical, other people's description and life etc). I know it is unavoidable to mention the first and second word war as well as famous people around her but I would expect a profile about such a unique woman as Ms Coco to be more about her achievements as a fashion designer as well as a business woman. I never finished the book. I got bored and I was lost in the details.
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on 30 October 2015
Most of what I read is non-fiction and this has to be one of the most boring books I have ever read. I took it with me on holiday to read and it was like a forced penance to read it all. Coco Chanel comes about as being a self-centred diva and her roots were from a state of poverty. She had many, many affairs, we think the current generation is promiscuous, this crowd of toffs was even worse. I would maybe choose another biography to read rather than this one. Did she change the style of fashion, maybe, but I wouldn't have wanted her for a friend.
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on 29 June 2011
This is an incredibly story, all the more so because it is a true rags to riches story. It starts with poverty, and slowly moves to Chanel's relationships with rich men (there were many) then on to her journey via these men to become the icon (period) of the couture fashion and perfume world. Along the way there are aristocrats, artists, international royality, film stars, politics and two world wars. It is a detailed story that looks at her life and the times/period. I would have liked to have seen more detail on her couture work in this book.
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on 30 April 2015
Had no idea that Coco had such an amazing life. The book is a fascinating read. In particular she seemed to charm prominent Englishmen drawn from the aristocracy, politics and business. Then there is a roll call of Continental artists and artistes all of whom were drawn to her. It is not just about fashion and perfumes. A real rags to riches story that I could not put down.
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on 27 September 2013
You need to know something about the time she is talking about and the people she is referencing to make the story make sense - very intense and full of information.
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on 4 June 2011
I love everything Chanel, and this was the second book I have brought on Coco Chanel's biography, this one is the best one of the two.
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on 25 May 2014
Informative well written although at times boring. Not one of the best books I have read. Would be more selective next time.
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