Coco, the Novel

Patricia B. Soliman, Author Putnam Publishing Group $21.95 (397p) ISBN 978-0-399-13516-3
Nicely researched but ploddingly told, this novelized biography of the legendary couturiere and style setter aims no higher than commercial fare. First novelist Soliman analyzes her protagonist's fiercely ambitious personality in terms of chronic insecurity: the illegitimate daughter of a decamped peddler, Chanel entered society through the demimonde and eventually became the intimate of the leading artists, writers, musicians, dancers and world leaders of her time, but she never forgot her lowly origins. Though Soliman varies the narrative point of view among Coco and her friends--arts patron Misia Sert (here reduced to a meddling gossip and sexual debauchee), Vera Bate, Boy Capel, Serge Lifar--the voices are nearly identical; famous figures parade through these pages like so many wooden mannequins. Coco's life, however, has enough intrinsic drama, rampant sexuality and creative verve to make a passing good story. Her two major heartbreaks--the death of her one great love, Boy Capel, and her inability to bear a child (and thus qualify as a wife) for the Duke of Westminister--are recounted along with her many other romantic trysts (including her questionable liaison with a Nazi general) and the triumphs of her revolutionary sense of design. Publishing veteran Soliman has edited Jackie Collins; this romanticized view of Chanel may appeal to the same audience. BOMC alternate. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-06-100268-7
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