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The Chanel Sisters

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A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic nov A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive. The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.


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A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic nov A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive. The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.

30 review for The Chanel Sisters

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This is a fascinating historical novel which is based on some facts and the gaps filled with fiction. The story of the Chanel sisters is narrated by the less well known Antionette and she gives an excellent voice to the rags to riches story and lasting fame of Gabrielle, better known as Coco Chanel. This is a very enjoyable well written novel that is hard to put down. Particularly interesting is the convent orphanage where the girls learn to sew under the exacting standards of the nuns. The auth This is a fascinating historical novel which is based on some facts and the gaps filled with fiction. The story of the Chanel sisters is narrated by the less well known Antionette and she gives an excellent voice to the rags to riches story and lasting fame of Gabrielle, better known as Coco Chanel. This is a very enjoyable well written novel that is hard to put down. Particularly interesting is the convent orphanage where the girls learn to sew under the exacting standards of the nuns. The author portrays the girls as restless dreamers and shows how the ‘élégantes’ (chic) provided a contrast to their dull early lives and a reason to look for ‘Something better’ which becomes the girls watchword. The storytelling is rich, colourful and lively and depicts the periods of time from 1897 to 1921 really well. The descriptions of the effects of the First World War are especially good and parts of that are very emotional. It’s clear to see Coco’s ambition, she is unconventional and very ahead of her time especially as women at this time live in ‘cages’ which she does not intend to happen to her. Even female attire can be seen as a cage, hence Coco’s looser clothes designed for comfort as well as to accentuate the figure. I like the snapshots of society at their period of time and societies judgements which as an example is shown through what constitutes a suitable marriage. The sisters journey to success takes the reader to Paris, to Deauville and Biarritz showing how they start by selling hats which expands to clothing and finally to perfumery. I really like that the author chose to use Antoinette to tell the story as it allows us to view Coco more effectively. She is truly admirable for her business acumen, for her independence and for a legacy that lives on to this day. Overall, an entertaining read which keeps you interested from start to finish. With thanks to NetGalley and Headline for the arc for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4 ooh la la stars I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about the Chanel sisters – there was actually a large family – 3 sisters, 2 brothers and an aunt who was almost the same age as the sisters. How two of the sisters started and grew the Chanel empire was a fascinating story! The author definitely used some historical research, but like many books with this model, much is created for the sake of a good storytelling. I assumed that the Chanel family was ultra-wealthy and created the emp 4 ooh la la stars I really enjoyed this historical fiction story about the Chanel sisters – there was actually a large family – 3 sisters, 2 brothers and an aunt who was almost the same age as the sisters. How two of the sisters started and grew the Chanel empire was a fascinating story! The author definitely used some historical research, but like many books with this model, much is created for the sake of a good storytelling. I assumed that the Chanel family was ultra-wealthy and created the empire. It was very surprising to learn that they were very poor, and in fact the girls spent years in an orphanage after the death of their mother. The story focuses on Antoinette Chanel, who helped her sister Gabrielle (known to us as Coco) run the business. They started with a hat boutique and grew to add clothing later. Toward the end of the book, Coco is creating a perfume, and I thought, aha Chanel No. 5!! The later part of the book deals with WWI and the impact that has on France and the world. I found these sisters to be resourceful and determined to overcome the nun’s predictions for them of marrying a merchant or being a passable seamstress. This book was a good reminder that the Chanel sisters were ahead of their time in wanting to run their own business and change fashion for comfort for women. Today in 2020, the Chanel brand is worth $13.7 billion dollars and is synonymous with the wealthy and elite. It was definitely a journey to read one interpretation of how it all got started! This one put me right in France and this time period and reminded me that I want to go back soon!! Thanks to my Goodreads buddy Ceecee for putting this on my radar! And thanks to Harlequin/Graydon House for the complimentary copy to read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This well done historical fiction tracks Gabrielle (CoCo) and Antoinette Chanel from their early days at a Catholic orphanage. “All those years on the rue Cambon, in Deauville, in Biarritz, people thought they were buying Chanel, glamour, Parisian sophistication. But what they were really buying were the ornaments of our childhood, memories of the nuns who civilized us, the abbey that sheltered us.” From the very beginning, they felt destined for Something Better. Each seeks to accomplish that th This well done historical fiction tracks Gabrielle (CoCo) and Antoinette Chanel from their early days at a Catholic orphanage. “All those years on the rue Cambon, in Deauville, in Biarritz, people thought they were buying Chanel, glamour, Parisian sophistication. But what they were really buying were the ornaments of our childhood, memories of the nuns who civilized us, the abbey that sheltered us.” From the very beginning, they felt destined for Something Better. Each seeks to accomplish that through different means. It’s a stark reminder of the importance of propriety in that time and the inability for one to move up the ranks of class. “Sometimes it seems that I don’t belong anywhere. The class I was born in won’t have me. They think I’m too high and mighty because I try to better myself. And the high and mighty won’t have me because of the class I was born in. I’m an in-between.” It’s told solely from the perspective of Antoinette, of which little was really known compared to her famous sister. The book paints the various times in exquisite detail - on the polo fields, in the cafes with the Bohemians, in the Paris streets during WWI. The book details the romances of each sister, but it’s balanced with the business side of their lives. My thanks to netgalley and Harlequin for an advance copy of this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    Rags to riches. From their humble beginnings raised in a convent by nuns to the glitz and glamour of Paris. This was a riveting tale about Antoinette and her better known sister Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel. Judithe Little has crafted a well researched fictional biography about these fascinating sisters. The story is told completely through the eyes of Antoinette Chanel. I thought this was extremely impactful because you really got the chance to know and understand Coco from the perspective of her cl Rags to riches. From their humble beginnings raised in a convent by nuns to the glitz and glamour of Paris. This was a riveting tale about Antoinette and her better known sister Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel. Judithe Little has crafted a well researched fictional biography about these fascinating sisters. The story is told completely through the eyes of Antoinette Chanel. I thought this was extremely impactful because you really got the chance to know and understand Coco from the perspective of her closest confidant. I have to say I much preferred Antoinette I thought she was the much kinder more relatable sister. Coco was definitely more frosty and removed, she was determined to prove anyone and everyone who ever thought she wouldn’t succeed wrong. A woman well before her time living her life on her own terms and creating an empire. and right by her side encouraging her, supporting her, and occasionally holding her up was her little sister Antoinette. The story focuses on both the sisters romantic and business lives and I found it so fascinating. Saskia Maarleveld did a remarkable job of narrating the audiobook. There were so many accents she just brought the perfect voice to each and every character. This book in emojis 👭 👒 🪡 🏇🏻 🥂 🚬 *** Big thank you to Harlequin& Harper Audio for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    The Chanel Sisters is an interesting historical fiction novel about Antoinette and her sister Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. The book starts out with the sisters living in an orphanage as children. The Chanel Sisters goes through the sisters’ lives and struggles. The sisters are trying to be more throughout the book. Little is known about Antoinette, so Judithe Little based the book on what she thinks and hopes happened in Antoinette’s life. The Chanel Sisters is fascinating. Antoinette and Gabrielle h The Chanel Sisters is an interesting historical fiction novel about Antoinette and her sister Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. The book starts out with the sisters living in an orphanage as children. The Chanel Sisters goes through the sisters’ lives and struggles. The sisters are trying to be more throughout the book. Little is known about Antoinette, so Judithe Little based the book on what she thinks and hopes happened in Antoinette’s life. The Chanel Sisters is fascinating. Antoinette and Gabrielle had a lot of struggles in their lives, which made me very invested in this story from the beginning. All of the characters in The Chanel Sisters were unique and interesting. I loved the story. Little described Antoinette and Gabrielle’s struggles in a way that was interesting and not depressing. The Chanel Sisters covered a very long period of time, but didn’t drag at all or skip important events. There were points in the book where I personally wanted things to go differently, but by the end of the book I really understood why Little made the decisions she did about the characters. I didn’t really know what to expect from this book, but really enjoyed it. Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins/Graydon House for The Chanel Sisters. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    1897. The Chanel sisters began practicing their stitches at orphanage in Aubazine. At the Pensionnat Notre Dame at Moulins town, they are charity vs paying families. While they mop the floors and scrub the pots, the privileged girls practice piano or fancy needlework. Here, they are constantly reminded of their lowly station. And they have to practice stitching in secret. A couple, who runs a shop specializing in lace and other fashionable trimmings for the fashionable ladies, hires Gabrielle. A 1897. The Chanel sisters began practicing their stitches at orphanage in Aubazine. At the Pensionnat Notre Dame at Moulins town, they are charity vs paying families. While they mop the floors and scrub the pots, the privileged girls practice piano or fancy needlework. Here, they are constantly reminded of their lowly station. And they have to practice stitching in secret. A couple, who runs a shop specializing in lace and other fashionable trimmings for the fashionable ladies, hires Gabrielle. Antoinette stays at pensionnat as she is told she is too young. And to occupy her time, she fills it with talks about boys with other girls. On Sundays, Gabrielle gets extra work at tailor’s shop in order to meet officers who come there. At the very beginning, there is already an indication of this story being driven by romance rather than fashion. When they visit their grandma and their aunt close to Gabrielle’s age, she takes them to town and some silly behavior comes out. Very quickly the story turns into the dream world. They admire elegantes. They read love stories. They dream of marrying a Count or a prince. They practice how to act like elegantes. The story is more driven by them looking for men in order to raise them out of poverty, rather than them forging their own way through fashion. The second part of the book is much stronger, bringing Coco’s rise to fame and the love of her life, which is mature. It doesn’t bring the silly behavior, which takes part in the first part of the book. The story is presented from POV of Antoinette, who is less mature than Coco. I think if the story were presented from Coco’s POV it would be stronger. In the first part, I enjoyed how the girls were prepared for the life outside the convent. In the second part, I enjoyed reading what distinguished Coco. It was simplicity and precision in her fashion. And I wish those parts were explored more, instead of romance. I also enjoyed a small detail of their father being superstitious and always carrying wheat in his pocket for prosperity. And because of having five kids, he called five his lucky number. Is there a connection to the iconic fragrance Chanel no 5 or is this part complete fiction? Either way, this kind of writing makes a story stand out. When it comes to love, it’s a different story when the love part involves Boy Capel. He was probably the love of Coco’s life. And I can’t imagine telling her story without him in it. There is not much record of Antoinette. Her love brings a fictional character of Lucho, but this was a mature experience. And I enjoyed both love stories very much. Unfortunately, the women chasing men in the first part only weakened the story. 3.5 stars P.S. Kudos to the cover designer(s). Beautiful eye-catching cover. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    "Avonna

    Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com THE CHANEL SISTERS by Judithe Little is a historical fiction novel featuring the Chanel sisters and is told from the perspective of the youngest sister from the time they are placed in a convent orphanage until her death in 1921. The author gives us a fascinating look at the early establishment of a new fashion style and the birth of a business empire run by women in a society dominated by men. With the death of their mother and aba Check out all of my reviews at: https://www.avonnalovesgenres.com THE CHANEL SISTERS by Judithe Little is a historical fiction novel featuring the Chanel sisters and is told from the perspective of the youngest sister from the time they are placed in a convent orphanage until her death in 1921. The author gives us a fascinating look at the early establishment of a new fashion style and the birth of a business empire run by women in a society dominated by men. With the death of their mother and abandonment of their father, the three Chanel sisters, Julia-Berthe, Gabrielle and Antionette are placed in a convent orphanage. As they grow up under the strict rules of the nuns, they always believe they are destined for “something better”. Antionette is the youngest sister and the story of their early lives is told from her perspective. From the freedom, but poverty of their aging out of the convent to the hard work to learn and establish a business of their own, the author vividly portrays the French society and class system they had to struggle against. The sisters refused to settle for being members of the merchant class but continually strived to be financially independent. With the rise of “Coco” Chanel and the Chanel brand, Antionette is by her sister’s side assisting in the business as it expands and continually fighting against the strictures placed on women in early the 1900’s society. I found this book difficult to put down. I find the story of any woman who beats the odds to succeed against not only personal, but societal strictures and norms very interesting. Ms. Little did a great job of bringing the sisters and the time period to life even if liberties were taken for the story. Coco’s story goes on for another 50 years, but this book and part of her life ends with of the death of the narrator. I recommend this historical fiction for a unique look at the Chanel rags to riches story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve." Coco Chanel Thanks, Coco, I'll remember those words as I creep ever closer to the latter .... 🙄 I admit going into this one, other than the brand, I knew little about Coco Chanel - oh, and that it was the title of a Nicki Minaj song (although now I find out it is really a reference to cocaine, not Coco Chanel - oops!) The book cover caught my eye though, with a blurb "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve." Coco Chanel Thanks, Coco, I'll remember those words as I creep ever closer to the latter .... 🙄 I admit going into this one, other than the brand, I knew little about Coco Chanel - oh, and that it was the title of a Nicki Minaj song (although now I find out it is really a reference to cocaine, not Coco Chanel - oops!) The book cover caught my eye though, with a blurb that said, "If you only read one book this year, make it 'The Chanel Sisters.'" Super catchy and intriguing, so I bit, and I'm glad I did! The story covers the lives of the three Chanel sisters, and is told from the POV of youngest sister, Antionette. Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for "something better," which is the overwhelming theme of the book. The Chanel sisters, who were abandoned by their parents at a young age, were raised at a convent orphanage with nuns constantly telling them that they were destined to be the wives of ordinary tradesmen, at best. At night, the sisters' secret stash of romance novels and magazine cutouts hidden underneath the floorboards, keep their dreams of the future alive. When they are finally of age, the sisters set out with a fierce determination to prove themselves to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and into the glitzy cafés and dazzling performance halls of Paris, where a hat boutique starts out as a hobby and grows to a business beyond what either sister ever dreamed. Their journey is also fraught with incredible heartbreak, death, sadness, and personal triumph. I thought the book started out a bit slow with the orphanage chapters, but it did not stay that way for long, as the last half of the book was unputdownable! I know that the main focus was on Coco, and while I enjoyed her character, I absolutely adored Antionette, and found her journey much more intriguing and relatable. My favorite part of the story was the complex relationship between Antoinette and Lucho, the married Argentinian Polo player, and her "something better." Their story was so powerful and so full of yearning - it was literally palpable, and completely melted my often-critical-of-romance-storylines heart. In general, the relationships between the characters really shape the book: The sibling relationship between Gabrielle and Antoinette, and their older sister, Julia Berthe; the family relationship between the sisters and their young aunt, Etienne; the love stories of Gabrielle and Boy and Antoinette and Lucho. Each of these relationships were complex and ahead of their time and were what ultimately made the book memorable. The only thing that somewhat confused me was the hat boutique. I thought Coco Chanel's claim to fame was Chanel No. 5, but that is a very minor part of the book - barely a reference, in fact. The book is heavy on the sisters' hat creations and eventually Coco's clothing line, but little to nothing about perfume. I kept waiting for how the perfume line was born, but it never really happened. It doesn't take anything away from the story - I just found it interesting. For me, the mark of a great historical fiction book is one that makes me want to learn more about the characters, and this book does just that! A must-read for all of my historical fiction-loving friends on here! 4 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    A beautifully written and captivating rags to riches story. I will admit I didn't know much about the Chanel sisters or their family. This was very interesting. Another great pick by Sweetreads Box! A beautifully written and captivating rags to riches story. I will admit I didn't know much about the Chanel sisters or their family. This was very interesting. Another great pick by Sweetreads Box!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Claire Fullerton

    “A lovely, gorgeously set, romantic story sure to charm lovers of historical fiction with its joie de vivre and savoir faire.” In Judith Little’s beguiling The Chanel Sisters, the road to personal fulfillment starts with a dream. Sisters Gabrielle, Julia-Berthe, and Antoinette have much to overcome. They are left to fend for themselves pre-pubescence, when their mother dies and their father, known widely as a rootless “seducteur,” deposits them at an Aubazine, France, orphanage with false promise “A lovely, gorgeously set, romantic story sure to charm lovers of historical fiction with its joie de vivre and savoir faire.” In Judith Little’s beguiling The Chanel Sisters, the road to personal fulfillment starts with a dream. Sisters Gabrielle, Julia-Berthe, and Antoinette have much to overcome. They are left to fend for themselves pre-pubescence, when their mother dies and their father, known widely as a rootless “seducteur,” deposits them at an Aubazine, France, orphanage with false promises but never looks back. The remainder of my review appears in The New York Journal of Books: https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Chanel Sisters A entertaining and enlightening historical fiction novel full of tragedy and hopefulness. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SUMMARY Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel are abandoned by their family at a young age. Nuns at the orphanage are preparing them to lead simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. But the sisters are not content with what the nuns tell them they will be. They wanted something more...something better. When they are finally old enough, the Chanel sisters set out toge The Chanel Sisters A entertaining and enlightening historical fiction novel full of tragedy and hopefulness. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SUMMARY Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel are abandoned by their family at a young age. Nuns at the orphanage are preparing them to lead simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. But the sisters are not content with what the nuns tell them they will be. They wanted something more...something better. When they are finally old enough, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy. Their journey propels them out of poverty to a small hat shop in Paris, where a boutique takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But the sisters’ lives are thrown into turmoil when World War I breaks out, forcing them to make irrevocable choices. They’ll have to gather the courage to forge their own places in the world, even if apart from each other. REVIEW THE CHANEL SISTERS is uniquely and delightfully told from Antoinette’s point of view. This captivating tale has been created from what little is known about this brave and talented business women who lived in the shadow of her famous sister. It a touching rags to riches story based on determination, courage and luck. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate the early struggles, the glamorous settings, and the complicated romances. Author Judithe Little effortlessly creates and blends intriguing stories of the sisters’ lives into a immensely satisfying read, while showcasing a dedicated bond between Antoinette and Gabrielle. The writing is both enlightening and entertaining and I particularly enjoyed reading about their early days in the orphanage in Aubazine and their desire for...Something Better. JUDITHE LITTLE is the award-winning author of Wickwythe Hall. She earned a BA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She grew up in Virginia and now lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. “All those years on the rue Cambon, in Deauville, in Biarritz, people thought they were buying Chanel, glamour, Parisian sophistication. But what they were really buying were the ornaments of our childhood, memories of the nuns who civilized us, the abbey that sheltered us.” Publisher Harlequin Published December 29, 2020 Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks)

    The Chanel Sisters is the remarkable and sometimes heartbreaking story of Coco Chanel and her sister, Antoinette. After overcoming poverty and growing up in a convent, the sisters struggled to make their way in the world and left an indelible mark. I loved this story and can’t wait to see what Judithe Little writes next!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    THE CHANEL SISTERS tells the addictive tale of the early life of French designer Coco Chanel and her younger sister Antoinette. Raised in a convent after their mother died, they’re left with nothing but courage to pursue their dreams of being accepted and respected. Fashion-mad and ambitious, they start with a small pre-WWI hat shop in Paris that eventually blossoms into haute couture’s most famous brand. An enthralling read for hf lovers who adore fashion and the early 20th Century — my kind of THE CHANEL SISTERS tells the addictive tale of the early life of French designer Coco Chanel and her younger sister Antoinette. Raised in a convent after their mother died, they’re left with nothing but courage to pursue their dreams of being accepted and respected. Fashion-mad and ambitious, they start with a small pre-WWI hat shop in Paris that eventually blossoms into haute couture’s most famous brand. An enthralling read for hf lovers who adore fashion and the early 20th Century — my kind of book! 5 of 5 Stars Thanks to the author, HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada), and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. Pub Date 29 Dec 2020 #TheChanelSisters #NetGalley

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I loved this book. It's historical fiction as there's not a lot out there about Coco Chanel's sister Antoinette and she tells the story. I love the author's version of her life. If you like historical fiction you'll love this book. I won this book on Goodreads and feel lucky to have won it. I loved this book. It's historical fiction as there's not a lot out there about Coco Chanel's sister Antoinette and she tells the story. I love the author's version of her life. If you like historical fiction you'll love this book. I won this book on Goodreads and feel lucky to have won it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    THE CHANEL SISTERS tells the addictive tale of the early life of French designer Coco Chanel and her younger sister Antoinette. Raised in a convent after their mother died, they’re left with nothing but courage to pursue their dreams of respect and acceptance. Fashion-mad and ambitious, they start with a small pre-WWI hat shop in Paris that eventually blossoms into haute couture’s most famous brand. An enthralling read for hf lovers who adore fashion and the early 20th Century — my kind of book! THE CHANEL SISTERS tells the addictive tale of the early life of French designer Coco Chanel and her younger sister Antoinette. Raised in a convent after their mother died, they’re left with nothing but courage to pursue their dreams of respect and acceptance. Fashion-mad and ambitious, they start with a small pre-WWI hat shop in Paris that eventually blossoms into haute couture’s most famous brand. An enthralling read for hf lovers who adore fashion and the early 20th Century — my kind of book! 5 of 5 Stars Thanks to the author, HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada), and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. Pub Date 29 Dec 2020 #TheChanelSisters #NetGalley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paige Green

    Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Chanel Sisters Author: Judithe Little Book Series: Standalone Rating: 3.5/5 Recommended For...: historical fiction, fashion, Chanel Publication Date: December 29, 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 16+ (grief, romance, sexual content) Publisher: Graydon House Pages: 400 Synopsis: Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years befor Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own. Book: The Chanel Sisters Author: Judithe Little Book Series: Standalone Rating: 3.5/5 Recommended For...: historical fiction, fashion, Chanel Publication Date: December 29, 2020 Genre: Historical Fiction Recommended Age: 16+ (grief, romance, sexual content) Publisher: Graydon House Pages: 400 Synopsis: Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive. The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other. Review: For the most part I thought the book was pretty good. It felt well researched and I liked the voice of the narrator. I felt the book was well written, the characters well developed, and the world building was solid. However, I did feel like the book felt more like a nonfiction than a fiction book. The book also glossed over Chanel’s involvement with Nazis and her time in occupied Paris was not mentioned. The author’s note addressed it, but the omission of it felt like hiding a lie. I feel like we do that sometimes with historical figures. We gloss over the bad and honor the good. But no one is without fault. Even Mother Theresa did bad and evil things. If we’re going to talk candidly about someone, we should talk about their whole being and not just the cherry picked parts. Verdict: It was good, but not a total account.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elliot A

    Thank you to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with an ARC of The Chanel Sisters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The Gist At times it’s very tough to get excited about anything, since the world turned upside down almost a year ago. I thought the story, The Chanel Sisters, could help me forget reality a little bit while I took a trip into the world of historical fiction. For a while, it certainly looked that way, until…Well, until this 400-page book began to Thank you to the publisher, Graydon House, for providing me with an ARC of The Chanel Sisters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The Gist At times it’s very tough to get excited about anything, since the world turned upside down almost a year ago. I thought the story, The Chanel Sisters, could help me forget reality a little bit while I took a trip into the world of historical fiction. For a while, it certainly looked that way, until…Well, until this 400-page book began to feel like an 800-page book. Let me explain. The Details I have to say, the premise was intriguing, but I wasn’t sure what the point of the story was the longer I read it. I found the protagonist flat and uninteresting. The story was told from her point of view, yet there was nothing personal in her recount of the events that shaped her life. The other two sisters that made up these “Chanel Sisters” were glossed over. One did get a little more stage time, but the third sister was almost brushed under the rug. The Chanel Sisters read like a play-by-play account of chronological facts. It was impossible to connect on an emotional level with any of the characters. Mostly because it only focused on the sisters and even then, it was nothing but a lukewarm bond. There were a lot of details. A lot of details about stitching, hat making, ruffles, feathers, and dialogue. Dialogue that didn’t move the story forward. Actually, most of the details given felt irrelevant to the plot and character development. I would have love to see a little less detail on the stitching and minute account of she-said-she-said and more attention to setting up the scene. Where are the characters? What do they see and feel? What does Paris in the early 1900’s look like? I could kind of see where the story was heading, but it took so long to get there. I also didn’t understand why it wasn’t told from multiple points of view. The book is called The Chanel Sisters. So why not give us, the reader, insight into the minds of the other two sisters? As I said before, The Chanel Sisters was too detailed in some places and not detailed enough in others. I kept reading and reading and felt I wasn’t really getting anywhere. The Verdict Overall, The Chanel Sisters started out rather promising. The first third of the book grabbed my attention and I read well past my bedtime. It just lost its way around the halfway mark. I would suggest it. ElliotScribbles

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    I actually expected something a little different from what I got with this novel. For some reason, I thought I would learn a bit more about Coco Chanel (Gabrielle). However, this was an interesting look into the lives of all of the Chanel sisters. We learn next to nothing about the boys in this book. Be aware that unless you are fluent in French, and perhaps what might be outdated French, you may be at sea with a lot of the words and terms as I was. Thank goodness for Kindle translations! I was a I actually expected something a little different from what I got with this novel. For some reason, I thought I would learn a bit more about Coco Chanel (Gabrielle). However, this was an interesting look into the lives of all of the Chanel sisters. We learn next to nothing about the boys in this book. Be aware that unless you are fluent in French, and perhaps what might be outdated French, you may be at sea with a lot of the words and terms as I was. Thank goodness for Kindle translations! I was a bit disappointed at the lengths the sisters went to sometimes. Learning how the Chanel line got started was the most interesting thing about this book, and I would have liked to know more. I will be doing some research into other books now that I have read this one! Even though this book did not hold up to my expectations, it was gripping and kept my attention quite well. *ARC supplied by the publisher and author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Peden

    4.5 I really enjoyed this. Saskia Maarleveld is by far my favorite historical fiction narrator. Interestingly enough, the main POV of the book is Coco Chanel’s sister, Antoinette Chanel. If you love fashion I think you’ll love this one just as much as I did.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    4.5 Stars I’m delighted to take part in the Fall 2020 Blog Tours for Historical Fiction From Harlequin Trade Publishing! Thanks for the invitation. Thanks #Netgalley #HarlequinPublishing @HarperCollins for an electronic complimentary copy of #TheChanelSisters for review. All opinions are my own. Hats…Fashion…Perfume Raised in a strict convent orphanage, the Chanel sisters, Gabrielle (“Coco”) and Antoinette, know that they are destined for something better. They hide romantic novels and fashion maga 4.5 Stars I’m delighted to take part in the Fall 2020 Blog Tours for Historical Fiction From Harlequin Trade Publishing! Thanks for the invitation. Thanks #Netgalley #HarlequinPublishing @HarperCollins for an electronic complimentary copy of #TheChanelSisters for review. All opinions are my own. Hats…Fashion…Perfume Raised in a strict convent orphanage, the Chanel sisters, Gabrielle (“Coco”) and Antoinette, know that they are destined for something better. They hide romantic novels and fashion magazines from strict nuns as they envision a different life. When they age out of the orphanage, Gabrielle and Antoinette set out to create a life for themselves, hoping desperately to leave their poverty behind. Finally, they establish a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris. As their fashionable and well made hats gain popularity, WW1 breaks out. Ultimately, they go their separate ways as they continue to courageously find their own places in the world. The engaging story of The Chanel Sisters is told from Antoinette’s perspective. Very little is known about her, so Antoinette’s portion of the story is highly imagined. I enjoyed this perspective because it shows the important contributions of the lesser known sister. I enjoyed both Antoinette and Gabrielle (“Coco”) and their remarkable and heartbreaking story. They are determined and work hard to create their own luck. I love that Gabrielle redesigns the uniforms they are required to wear in the convent orphanage. I love that they reread the same romantic novel over and over and that they keep a secret collection of fashion cutouts from magazines as inspiration. I love Gabrielle’s ability during the war to create fashion from plain gray jersey. I love that Gabrielle is ahead of her time, an out-of-the-box thinker, and a confident trend setter (she remarks when criticized about not following trends that SHE sets the trends!). I love their devotion to each other and appreciate the 360 degree look at their lives–their childhood, the business (hats, clothing, and perfume), and their romances. In the story, we are transported to the years between 1897 and 1921, and the time and place are well detailed and excellently described. Thoughtful themes include “rags to riches,” determination, hard work, sibling loyalty, class (“elegantes” vs the poor), trend setting, forward thinking, creativity, confidence, resourcefulness, and risk-taking, You know I love the histfic genre! I love learning more about the Chanel sisters, especially that they came from a large, poor family and that they were trendsetters in running their own business and designing comfortable clothing for women. I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating story, and I’m highly recommending The Chanel Sisters for readers who love character-driven and page-turning histfic, for those who enjoy stories about inspirational and trendsetting women, for fans of fashion, and for book clubs. For more reviews visit my blog www.readingladies.com (where this review first was published).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany www.instagram.com/tiffs_bookshelf

    This is a fiction book about the Chanel Sisters before they became "Chanel". We follow the sisters as they grow from children living in a conventional to adults trying to make their way into life. We follow them through the times that led to their fashion dynasty and through World War I. I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction. This is a fiction book about the Chanel Sisters before they became "Chanel". We follow the sisters as they grow from children living in a conventional to adults trying to make their way into life. We follow them through the times that led to their fashion dynasty and through World War I. I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Wow. It’s rare to start a book and immediately feel like you will love it. I felt that way with this book and I was absolutely right :) It was refreshing to read about Coco Chanel before she was Coco. This book is about The Chanel sisters and their honorary sister Adrienne. The name Chanel was not a good connection when the girls were growing up. Antoinette, Gabrielle and Julia-Berthe were left with the nuns after their mom died. Their dad had run off and left them to fend for themselves. The nuns t Wow. It’s rare to start a book and immediately feel like you will love it. I felt that way with this book and I was absolutely right :) It was refreshing to read about Coco Chanel before she was Coco. This book is about The Chanel sisters and their honorary sister Adrienne. The name Chanel was not a good connection when the girls were growing up. Antoinette, Gabrielle and Julia-Berthe were left with the nuns after their mom died. Their dad had run off and left them to fend for themselves. The nuns tried to set the girls on a straight and narrow path. Julia-Berthe was the first to beer from that path. After the girls met their (very young) aunt Adrienne they started to dream of new things. Adrienne was in a convent school too but she had seen things the other girls had not, such as the elegantes. The girls cut pictures from magazines and began to dream of Something Better. Their intro to fashion was actually taking apart their school uniforms and remaking them so that they fit better. Each girl dreamed of love but also had the desire to be able to support themselves. They didn’t want to be left poor again like their father had left them. This was really an amazing story. I loved it. I loved the way the author built this story with some facts and her own theories tying everything together. Most of the people, places, fashions etc were real. It was fun to Google them to see them with my own eyes. This story was about the sisters and their aunt and their path to rise above their own past to build a better life. It’s sad to know that Coco felt the need to tell lies about her childhood as she got more established but she seemed to need to break from her past the most. I got to read an early ebook edition from NetGalley. Thank you! This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’m already recommending it to everyone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    This gorgeously-written book chronicles the lives of Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from their early years at the convent orphanage in Aubazine. Their time at the orphanage left a lasting impression on both girls and forged a determination in Coco to create a better life for herself and to seek entrée into the upper-crust society who refused to accept her. From the days of their hat shop on rue Cambon in Paris to the years after the war, Little tells the women’s stories through the eyes This gorgeously-written book chronicles the lives of Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel from their early years at the convent orphanage in Aubazine. Their time at the orphanage left a lasting impression on both girls and forged a determination in Coco to create a better life for herself and to seek entrée into the upper-crust society who refused to accept her. From the days of their hat shop on rue Cambon in Paris to the years after the war, Little tells the women’s stories through the eyes of Antoinette detailing their friendships, romances, and success in the fashion business. In her Author’s Note, Little includes fascinating tidbits about Coco Chanel’s inspiration for her CC symbol which recreated the interlocking loops in Aubazine’s stained glass and for her jewelry which copied the patterns found on the orphanage’s stone floors. Readers will be captivated by this page-turner. Listen to my author interviews here: https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com, and for more of my reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Author Judithe Little has written an engrossing and intimate story about the Chanel sisters. Told from the point of view of the youngest sister, Antoinette, we learn of their hardscrabble, lonely childhoods, their yearnings for something better, and their ultimate success. The portraits of these young women in this book are honest, revealing their ambitions as well as the desires of their hearts. I was transported to the stark convent where they lived following the death of their mother to the g Author Judithe Little has written an engrossing and intimate story about the Chanel sisters. Told from the point of view of the youngest sister, Antoinette, we learn of their hardscrabble, lonely childhoods, their yearnings for something better, and their ultimate success. The portraits of these young women in this book are honest, revealing their ambitions as well as the desires of their hearts. I was transported to the stark convent where they lived following the death of their mother to the glamorous sights of Paris, and all points in between. The Chanel Sisters is a wonderful blend of history and family saga in a story of strength and determination.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Thank you to Netgalley and Headline for the arc of The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little. 4 star read- This is a historictal fiction following a convent orphanage which is were girls learn to sew under the exact standards as the nuns. it covers the time period of 1897 and 1921. It is very emotional when it describes the effects of the first world war and more about CoCo;s dreams and desires this is an interesting and entertaining great read, i love so much this was a great book, highly recommend 4 Thank you to Netgalley and Headline for the arc of The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little. 4 star read- This is a historictal fiction following a convent orphanage which is were girls learn to sew under the exact standards as the nuns. it covers the time period of 1897 and 1921. It is very emotional when it describes the effects of the first world war and more about CoCo;s dreams and desires this is an interesting and entertaining great read, i love so much this was a great book, highly recommend 4 stars!⭐⭐⭐⭐

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    I found The Chanel Sisters very interesting! It is a well-written historical fiction, and the story is told from the point of view of the middle Chanel sister, Antoinette. Readers get a glimpse at the beginnings of the Chanel fashion house as well as the sister’s humble childhood and later romantic escapades. The story provides much information about Gabrielle (Coco) not only as it pertains to her younger sister, Antoinette, but also about their growing business and various romantic dalliances. I found The Chanel Sisters very interesting! It is a well-written historical fiction, and the story is told from the point of view of the middle Chanel sister, Antoinette. Readers get a glimpse at the beginnings of the Chanel fashion house as well as the sister’s humble childhood and later romantic escapades. The story provides much information about Gabrielle (Coco) not only as it pertains to her younger sister, Antoinette, but also about their growing business and various romantic dalliances. Gabrielle, not Antoinette, shrewdly used her wealthy and generous lovers to her advantage in terms of developing and growing her business. There is just enough information about their younger sister Julia and the rest of the family to give you a taste of the struggles they experienced. Not surprisingly, much of Antoinette’s story is surmised as historically, there was little documentation on women’s lives. I loved the details of Gabrielle’s creativity and Antoinette’s technical ability. With every mention of a new hat or dress, I was looking up photos and drawings for reference. The sisters’ yearning for “something better” tugged at my heartstrings. Their desire to rise above the low expectations given to them at the orphanage is understandable. Beyond the exploration of the Chanel sisters, Ms. Little’s book provides a look at the mores of various social classes. I would have appreciated more details about the impact of the war on the Chanel business, but overall, the book is clearly well researched. An added bonus is the brief story about the development of the iconic Chanel 5 parfum. Overall an engaging and easy to digest historical fiction with added appeal to any fashionista. 4.5 stars I received an advance copy of this book from Graydon House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. For more reading recommendations, visit Book Junkie Reviews at www.abookjunkiereviews.wordpress.com

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aayushi Gupta

    Review originally published at My Bookish Banter The Chanel Sisters was absolutely unputdownable, and I was sucked into the book from the very start. Every piece of the story had its own charm, whether it was the years spent at the orphanage, the struggle to make a living after being freed from the walls of the convent, or the ups and downs in the personal lives of the Chanel sisters through and after the war. The pace REALLY picks up in the second half, and I read the last 50% in a single sittin Review originally published at My Bookish Banter The Chanel Sisters was absolutely unputdownable, and I was sucked into the book from the very start. Every piece of the story had its own charm, whether it was the years spent at the orphanage, the struggle to make a living after being freed from the walls of the convent, or the ups and downs in the personal lives of the Chanel sisters through and after the war. The pace REALLY picks up in the second half, and I read the last 50% in a single sitting. The story is narrated from the PoV of Antoinette Chanel, Coco’s younger sister, business partner and staunch supporter throughout her journey. Through Antoinette’s discerning and understanding eyes, we delve into the enigmatic personality of Gabrielle and her internal struggles. The more I read about Coco Chanel, the more I could not help but be enamored by her. She was way ahead of her times, in fashion as well as personal life. She scoffed at traditions and followed only her heart. Highly impulsive and doggedly perseverant, Coco Chanel did not know how to give up, which is why she always needed the voice of reason in her life, sometimes in the form of Antoinette and at others in the form of her friends Etienne and Boy. Antoinette’s own story is equally absorbing and her character highly relatable. The relationships between the characters is the highlight of the book; The sibling relationship between Gabrielle and Antoinette, the friendship between Etienne and Gabrielle, the love story of Gabrielle and Boy and that of Lucho and Antoinette- each of these relationships were non-conventional, much ahead of time and highly complex. My favorite bit of the story was the romance between Antoinette and Lucho, the dashing Argentinian Polo player who loves horses. Their long drawn love story has a lot of yearning and separation involved, but is not devoid of the beautiful but rare moments they get to spend together. Both of them are similar in more ways than it appears on the surface, and hence understand each other seamlessly. A large part of the book takes place in Paris – the fashion capital of the world. It is described as if it has a personality of its own, its own moods and feelings. The prose is sprinkled generously with French terms, giving the tale an even more French feel. The Chanel Sisters was a delight to read. A historical fiction with overarching themes of struggle and triumph, love and loss, family and friendship – making it a complete package.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This is the story of the Chanel Sisters - Julia - Berthe the oldest, Gabrielle "Coco", and Antoinette "Ninette" - and their story from childhood through the end of their lives. Judithe Little did a great job telling their story sticking to the actual history of their lives, as much as was available for Julia and Ninette. I never knew the sad story of their childhood and upbringing, as it was. The inspiration Coco used for her CC symbol, her hats, her clothing line and even her signature perfume This is the story of the Chanel Sisters - Julia - Berthe the oldest, Gabrielle "Coco", and Antoinette "Ninette" - and their story from childhood through the end of their lives. Judithe Little did a great job telling their story sticking to the actual history of their lives, as much as was available for Julia and Ninette. I never knew the sad story of their childhood and upbringing, as it was. The inspiration Coco used for her CC symbol, her hats, her clothing line and even her signature perfume Chanel No. 5. Such a fascinating story told through the voice of Ninette. Little told a wonderful endearing story of Ninette's life (the fiction part since so little was known of her) but some good guessing for her story line, to make a fantastic book that lives in my head, long after finishing this wonderful story! I highly recommend this book, that will be out Dec. 29, 2020 - mark it as a book to order! And thank you to the author, Judithe Little for sending me an advanced copy. The cover is so beautiful - stunning!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane Standish

    Thanks to #Edelweiss and #GraydonHouse for the opportunity to read and review this book. Pub date 12/29/2020 I was delighted to read a book that told the story of Chanel from the point of view of the unknown sister Antoinette . The story begins with their life in the convent where they grew up. Ninette actually is an integral part of Coco's rise to fame. She worked in the hat shop, where she developed the expertise for making hats, and more importantly had the skills as a sales person that helped Thanks to #Edelweiss and #GraydonHouse for the opportunity to read and review this book. Pub date 12/29/2020 I was delighted to read a book that told the story of Chanel from the point of view of the unknown sister Antoinette . The story begins with their life in the convent where they grew up. Ninette actually is an integral part of Coco's rise to fame. She worked in the hat shop, where she developed the expertise for making hats, and more importantly had the skills as a sales person that helped Chanel's popularity. Ninette wants to be "Something More" and searches for real love. A riveting book that I highly recommend

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hope Hunter

    Historical fiction account of the Chanel sisters as told by Antoinette Chanel, Gabrielle "Coco's" younger sister which tells of the sisters' upbringing by nuns in a strict Catholic orphanage to Coco's rise as a fashion icon. Little is known about Coco's sister, Antoinette, so I appreciated this perspective. This book read more like a nonfiction account instead of a fictional story. I was a little disappointed that her involvement with the Nazis was glossed over; in fact very little was mentioned Historical fiction account of the Chanel sisters as told by Antoinette Chanel, Gabrielle "Coco's" younger sister which tells of the sisters' upbringing by nuns in a strict Catholic orphanage to Coco's rise as a fashion icon. Little is known about Coco's sister, Antoinette, so I appreciated this perspective. This book read more like a nonfiction account instead of a fictional story. I was a little disappointed that her involvement with the Nazis was glossed over; in fact very little was mentioned about her time in occupied Paris at all. I honestly got more information from the author's note at the end than I really did throughout the story.

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