Author Guest Post | C.W. Gortner relates the beauty of inspiration behind how Coco Chanel’s effervescent presence in fashion and parfum have endured her legacy forty years after her death. {on behalf of “Mademoiselle Chanel”}

Posted Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 by jorielov , , , 6 Comments

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I had the opportunity to become introduced to the writings of Mr Gortner whilst I participated on his blog tour for The Tutor Vendetta, marking a special moment for me as it was Gortner’s writings which had first intrigued me to start hosting for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. I had the chance to interview him about his writings and the Spymaster Trilogy, and now, only a handful of months since I first picked up a novel of his, I have the beautiful opportunity to dig inside an historical biographical fiction novel about Chanel! Chanel as I will reveal on my book review lateron tonight, held a key part of my personal growth with an affection for parfum which went back through my own maternal line of heritage without my realisation until I ‘met’ Chanel via a novel which changed my life.

I wanted to ask Mr Gortner about what inspired him to focus on Chanel but also, on how Chanel’s life has continued to have an impact on everyone who crosses path with either her personal history of what she’s left behind for us to discover about her or a part of her legacy in the fashion and/or parfum industries where she not only set a certain standard but directly had an impact on the direction of where both industries were going to break out into new territories.

It was further interesting to me, the synopsis for Mademoiselle Chanel mentions a previous novel I have held quite close to my heart: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald as I had the pleasure of reading and discovering Zelda through such an authentic voice as portrayed in her biographical fiction novel from Therese Fowler as to be full of thanksgiving for the novel to cross my path via the First Impressions programme at Book Browse. I believe this speaks to the authenticity of the work as a whole, as I had previously encountered Gortner’s passionate dedication to research in the Spymaster series, and this tip-off with Chanel, gave me a bit of insight of what I might find inside the pages herein.

You see Zelda wasn’t simply spoken about in a third person point of view or a narration thus far removed from her living hours; no, to me Zelda’s voice was captured so surely by Fowler as to give definition to her character and a direct line of insight into who Zelda was whilst she was alive. On this note, I am perceiving the same must have been felt by early readers and the editors on behalf of Gortner’s take on Chanel. To knit together such a convincing portrait as if Chanel herself were echoing her thoughts directly into the pen of Gortner and thus, presenting us with a story which speaks as true as the woman who lived the life.

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Mademoiselle Chanel

For readers of “The Paris Wife” and “Z” comes this vivid novel full of drama, passion, tragedy, and beauty that stunningly imagines the life of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel—the ambitious, gifted laundrywoman’s daughter who revolutionized fashion, built an international empire, and became one of the most influential and controversial figures of the twentieth century.

Born into rural poverty, Gabrielle Chanel and her siblings are sent to an orphanage after their mother’s death. The sisters nurture Gabrielle’s exceptional sewing skills, a talent that will propel the willful young woman into a life far removed from the drudgery of her childhood.

Transforming herself into Coco—a seamstress and sometime torch singer—the petite brunette burns with ambition, an incandescence that draws a wealthy gentleman who will become the love of her life. She immerses herself in his world of money and luxury, discovering a freedom that sparks her creativity. But it is only when her lover takes her to Paris that Coco discovers her destiny.

Rejecting the frilly, corseted silhouette of the past, her sleek, minimalist styles reflect the youthful ease and confidence of the 1920s modern woman. As Coco’s reputation spreads, her couturier business explodes, taking her into rarefied society circles and bohemian salons. But her fame and fortune cannot save her from heartbreak as the years pass. And when Paris falls to the Nazis, Coco is forced to make choices that will haunt her.

An enthralling novel of an extraordinary designer who created the life she desired, Mademoiselle Chanel explores the inner world of a woman of staggering ambition whose strength, passion and artistic vision would become her trademark.

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Hardback, Unabridged Audiobook, Ebook

Public Library | Add to Riffle

Converse on Twitter via: #MademoiselleChanel, #CocoChanel

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Coco Chanel’s Message for Success

 “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”

Forty years after her death, her empire thrives. We all know her name, as well as her style: the little black dress and pearls, the braided suit, the quilted handbag, and her bestselling perfume. But Coco Chanel, born in 1883 to an impoverished seamstress and itinerant vendor, whose childhood in a convent sparked a fury of ambition, remains relevant today for more than her contributions to what we wear.

Chanel rose to fame in an era when women had few choices. To work for a living was déclassé; arranged marriages were common, as they still are in parts of the world, while professional women were rare and scandalous. Chanel did more than ignore convention. She defied it. She decided that to build the life she wanted, she must cultivate herself, regardless of expectations.

Today, many of us still struggle with the same messages as Chanel. Although we’ve come a long way, as the ad declared, we nevertheless remain fixated on appearances—a successful marriage and children deemed hallmarks of achievement, while a thriving career should be, whenever possible, integrated into the above. How many articles have we seen about “having it all”? How many step-by-step guides on how we can bake a cake and eat it, too? And how many times have we run ourselves ragged trying to accomplish it?

Chanel wanted her own business. When she started out making hats, she had no formal training. Fashion was a male-dominated arena in the waning years of the Belle Époque, so her first customers were courtesans, women who made their own hours and earned their keep with conversation and seduction. Some were also actresses, when a job in the theater was about as acceptable as prostitution; many went on to marry and forge conventional lives.

What fascinates us about Chanel is that she never led a conventional life. She built her hat-shop into a fashion goldmine, her comfortable designs in perfect timing with World War I, which thrust women of all social standings into jobs. Chanel taught women not only how to dress for work, but also showed that they did indeed have choices, one of which could be a dedication to success—a trait often reserved for men. She never married. She never had children.

Did she sacrifice fulfillment, an issue fiercely debated in our 21st century? She once said, “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.” She defined herself with her message: Be who you want to be. We should all do the same.

 C.W. Gortner is the author of Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel
(William Morrow, HarperCollins)

Author Biography:CW Gortner

C.W. Gortner is the international bestselling author of six historical novels, translated in over twenty-five languages to date. His new novel, “Mademoiselle Chanel”, traces the tumultuous rise to fame of iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel.

In 2016, Random House will publish his eighth novel, “Vatican Princess”, about Lucrezia Borgia. Raised in Spain and a long-time resident of the Bay Area, C.W. is also dedicated to companion animal rescue from overcrowded shelters.


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I agree with Gortner; Chanel’s industrious determined spirit to rise above her station, circumstances, and the intense glare of her era against women who wanted to succeed in business is what her true legacy is reflecting back to girls today who are dreaming about how to make their own mark on the world whilst looking towards Chanel for a path through to an impossible dream. Every generation truly needs a role model and a guiding light shined on a person who ‘made it’ but didn’t just accomplish the singular object of their motivation but to ‘make it on their own terms’ whilst giving back to the world at large so much more than a benchmark of design and forward-thinking precedents on how to evolve a personal essence of style.

Chanel had a conviction of owning who she was and by living her own truth without letting anyone else’s opinions or beliefs shape who she would become or how she would live. It’s a remarkable feat considering as Gortner had about the generation in which she was raised, but I also, feel Gortner is right about today’s world, and the mis-perceptions placed upon us. We are still living in a world where there is a staunch right vs wrong approach to living our lives, where from an outside point of view, people have the tendency to be quite critical on our choices and our lifestyles as a whole. What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander, but rarely do you find yourself in an open-minded situation where however which way you elect to lay your hat is not only acceptable but applauded.

I can relate to this on a lot of levels, as I already broke from convention in my own life by believing in my right to be self-educated and self-motivated towards reaching my own goals. And, as far as conventionalism dictating the order of a path towards career and motherhood, you could say I’m a forerunner in that arena as well, because I believe women have the right to choose when to become a Mum irregardless if they were able to find happiness in marriage. The stigma around single women who raise children by choice is just as steep as the stigmas which blighted the path Chanel was attempting to carve out for herself as well.

Why such a difficulty to see past where one generation left off and the next one picked up a new thread of dialogue to help preserve our ability to champion our rights and our freedoms will continue to be debated as much as it will continue to thwart acceptance. I believe strong women like Coco Chanel not only help us find enlightenment through a person’s life already lived but they re-affirm how each of us is striving to create our own niche. Whereupon we can live wholly true to our innate gifts and give a positive contribution back to the world which inspired us to live daringly honest and real.

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This author guest post was courtesy of: France Book Tours:

{ click-through to find the road map for the tour }

Mademoiselle Chanel blog tour with France Book Tours

Be sure to check out my Bookish Events for (2015)
to see what I am hosting next via:

France Book Tours

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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Mademoiselle Chanel”, book synopsis, author photograph of C.W. Gortner, author biography, the blog tour badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. Writerly Topics Banner created by Jorie in Canva. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie


Posted Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 by jorielov in 19th Century, 20th Century, Adoption, Belle Epoque Era, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Bookish Discussions, Coco Chanel, Courtesan & Cocottes, Equality In Literature, Fashion Fiction, Fashion Industry, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, Historical Fiction, History, Parfum Industry, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Realistic Fiction, the Edwardian era, the Roaring Twenties

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6 responses to “Author Guest Post | C.W. Gortner relates the beauty of inspiration behind how Coco Chanel’s effervescent presence in fashion and parfum have endured her legacy forty years after her death. {on behalf of “Mademoiselle Chanel”}

  1. carol L

    Thanks for the post and the review. I’m so anxious to read about her and her road to the fame she reached. Such an independent woman. I’ve only ever known about her based on her clothes and fashion.

    • Hallo Carol,

      Thanks for stopping by my special author feature on behalf of the “Mademoiselle Chanel” blog tour! :) Unfortunately I replied to your previous comment on behalf of my tour stop for “The Witch of Painted Sorrows” explaining that I do not host giveaways; thus I removed your second comment as it does not apply. Please remember: I do not host giveaways of any nature on Jorie Loves A Story; when I participate for a blog tour it is with the understanding my tour stop is absent from the giveaway of which is hosted by the touring company itself and/or other book bloggers. Thank you for your understanding.

      Secondly, my review for “Mademoiselle Chanel” was re-scheduled for the 3rd of April, I was simply speaking openly about how moved I felt about Mr Gortner’s Guest Post and how I could directly relate to the message left behind by Chanel.

      You’re welcome to return to visit and talk to me about the books and authors I am featuring, however, again, your comments are for conversation and nothing more.

    • Hallo Andrea,

      I found it quite remarkable learning more about Chanel’s life and how an alternative twist of fate (the one which brought her to the orphanage) gave her such a strong grounding of what she could pursue as a career; I cannot wait to share my thoughts about this, as I have re-scheduled my review to post on the 3rd, as I needed a bit more time to read the story. One thing I wanted to say, is that even knowing what you’ve shared, Chanel still touched your life and inspired you. We cannot always directly participate in a person’s life but if a part of who they were rubbed of on us and touched our heart, sometimes that means more in the end. Even to admire her artistry and her life’s work is saying quite a heap in her regard and I would believe she would consider the best compliment.

      • Andrea (aka rokinrev)

        Possibly one of my first ” I bought it myself” paperbacks…maybe I was 10? was a bio of Coco. And the Lifetime bio pick with Shirley MacClaine and Malcom McDowell, although it was badly critiqued, was pretty spot on. Thanx for the reply and take care

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