FICTION

The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

Berkley. Jun. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781101990544. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781101990551. F
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Paris in 1938 seems like the perfect place for artist Lily Sutter to invite a little color back into her life after her husband's death, and she eagerly accepts her brother Charlie's invitation to visit him there. A trip to purchase a couture dress from controversial designer Elsa Schiaparelli draws Lily into the spirited feud between Schiaparelli and designer Coco Chanel, a rivalry influenced by the two women's very different perspectives both on fashion and on prewar European politics. Meanwhile, both Charlie and Lily become involved in love affairs complicated by the looming war. As Hitler's invasion of France draws closer, Lily and her new friends face difficult decisions about how much they are willing to risk to pursue their dreams.
VERDICT Fans of Renée Rosen and Melanie Benjamin should enjoy this latest novel from Mackin (A Lady of Good Family). The designers' obsession with besting each other makes for fun, gossipy reading, while the tensions of prewar Paris and Lily's attempts to ease her grief through her art lend the narrative satisfying emotional depth. Recommended for fans of well-researched historical fiction with strong female characters.

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