by Lorna Cook
Coco Chanel a Nazi? Wait. What?!?!
I love historical fiction!! I love it even more when I learn a new piece of history, especially as surprising as Coco Chanel’s work with the Nazis. When Lorna Cook dropped that little nugget of information, I had to stop reading and do my own research into the facts (which is not uncommon when I read historical fiction).
After doing my own research, I found that the Coco Chanel portion of The Dressmaker’s Secret is, in fact, factual. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I used to teach history and had no idea. In fact, I was so flabbergasted that I busted into a friend’s gym, in the middle of his workout (He is also a history teacher), scowl on my face and hands on my hips and in I’m sure was a quite accusatory tone, and asked, “Did you know Coco Chanel worked with the Nazis?! How did I not know this?!?!?!?!” As I ranted, pacing back and forth, throwing hands in the air, irritated by my own ignorance, he sat on the weight bench staring at me like a deer in the headlights. When he finally was able to get a word in, he told me that he did not know about Chanel either. He is like a history encyclopedia, so his lack of knowledge on the subject made me feel a tad bit better. (To be honest, I’m not sure he even knew who Chanel was until I told him.) Nonetheless, I felt as if I should have known about Coco Chanel and her Nazi ties.
The Dressmaker’s Secret is a brilliant marriage of fact and fiction. Cook’s masterful use of Chanel’s history along side that of Chloe and Adele makes the story come to life. The Dressmaker’s Secret is basically a story about a woman who wants to know more about her grandmother, who worked for Coco Chanel during the war. Oh, but this story is so much more.
I cannot recommend this book enough. My heart still races as I think about Chloe’s search into her grandmother’s past and all that she uncovered. In fact, The Dressmaker’s Secret is so good, that I have ordered the entire Lorna Cook collection. I can hardly wait!!