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Coco Before Chanel

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by Anne Fontaine

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A little girl from central France, who is placed in an orphanage with her sister and waits in vain every Sunday for her father to come and collect them. A weak-voiced café singer, who faces an audience of tipsy soldiers. A young seamstress destined to repair hems in a provincial tailor’s back shop. A thin-bodied apprentice courtesan, who finds refuge at her protector Etienne Balsan’s abode, among the loose women and party revellers. A lover who knows she’ll never be "someone’s wife", not even for Boy Capel, the man who nonetheless loves her. A rebel who feels stifled by the conventions of her time and wears her lovers’ shirts. This is the story of Coco Chanel, who embodied the modern woman before inventing her.

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