Monday, 17 March 2014

Chic lit: books for women who love fiction and fashion

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro: Elle magazine describes it as 'an irresistible love story and self-help manual rolled into one.'

I rediscovered Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro while I was loitering in the local library the other day. I used to have this book, but think it was purged when we moved to Australia. It's chick-lit with a twist, weaving together classic style advice from another book (also called Elegance) by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux, and the story of Louise, a young woman whose marriage breaks up, but who eventually finds happiness in the arms of a much younger man. (Did I mention this was chick lit?)

It's well-written light reading, but for me Ms Dariaux' quotes steal the show. Here she is on the subject of yachting:
"Now is your chance to show everyone that you are not afraid to be seen without make-up, that you never leave a trail of disorder in your wake, that you have a wonderfully even disposition, and that your elegance is based on utter simplicity. If this be the case (and if you are not subject to seasickness and know how to swim), you will surely have the most wonderful time of your life." 
Beautifully put, Genevieve.

Elegance by 1960's style guru Genevieve Antoine Dariaux: where has my copy gone?

Now I'm reading The Seamstress by Maria Duenas. This is not such a light read; its elegant prose tells the story of a young dressmaker, Sira, from Madrid who leaves Spain with her lover in 1936 when the country is on the brink of civil war. They travel to Morocco where he betrays her and leaves her with huge debts. Civil war engulfs Spain. Sira cannot go back so she sets up her own salon and makes beautiful clothes for upper class expats and their German friends. WWII is looming and Sira becomes involved with the British Secret Service, a move that puts her in great danger.

I haven't finished The Seamstress yet, but am enjoying it very much. I love Duenas' writing - and her descriptions of Sira's sartorial creations, such as the time she has to whip up a faux Fortuny Delphos (evening dress) in a few hours, add to the allure of the book.

Fortuny Delphos: don't try this at home

I read Elegance in a twinkling, The Seamstress is taking me a little longer. If you love a good read - with a smidgeon of style advice on the side - I'd recommend them both. And I'd love to hear about any other great chic lit finds...