Strengths: Very interesting, even though I don’t wear this perfume.
Weaknesses: Strictly about the perfume, minimal details about Chanel’s other ventures.
Why I read it: $5 sale pile
Setting: Around the world, but prominently France and the US.
Rating: 7 out of 10
If you liked this, try: smelling the original!
This book was another of my $5 sale books. I don’t wear this perfume (I prefer Bvlgari or Estee Lauder) nor am I a particular fan of Chanel cosmetics or fashion. Coco Chanel was an interesting character though and several beauty bloggers have read this book and enjoyed it, so I thought I should try it.
The first thing that hit me when I started reading this was the excessive amount of descriptive language – adjectives were dominating every page! I’m not sure if this improved or I just got used to the style of the narrative. Perhaps it was because I become more and more engrossed in the story – for behind that bottle, there’s a lot of fighting and heartache.
The book describes Chanel’s early life and why some of the scents in No.5 had powerful memories for the young Coco. It then goes into the development of the perfume (but not too much technicalities) and the business war that ensued over decades as Coco sold her rights to No. 5 very early on. This caused No.5 to take over the market, being available everywhere and anywhere, from pharmacies to army stores. Coco fought very hard to retain control of her perfume post World War II.
If you’re a devotee of Chanel’s other perfumes, there’s not very much in this book for you – other perfumes are mentioned but not in great detail. Similarly, there’s not a lot about her fashion house. It is an interesting story though and will entertain history buffs and beauty fans alike.