Welcome to the book tour for The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin! Get to know her a little bit better with this quick interview and then follow the tour to find out even more about her. Be sure to ask more questions in the comments section. Also enjoy an excerpt from the book before you download your own copy. And of course, best of luck in the giveaway!
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Almost anything but chocolate. Bizarre, right? I prefer fruit flavors and a good strong vanilla, perhaps with caramel swirls. People just about fall out of their chairs when I tell them I don’t like chocolate. It drove my mother crazy, because every year for my birthday she wanted to make me a chocolate cake (her favorite) and I would scream “No! Apple pie!” I suppose I was a difficult child and grew into a strange adult. I don’t know what Coco Chanel’s favorite ice cream flavor was, or even if she ate ice cream. She was willowy and athletic and probably avoided sweets.
Which mythological creature are you most like?
I would like to think the phoenix, always rising from the ashes of her own destruction. Life has a way of trying to crush us, over and over. Illness, loss, separations, failures. So you cry a bit, then get back up and start again. Stand up, I tell myself. Never quit. The phoenix. I wonder if Elsa Schiaparelli, one of the main characters in The Last Collection, would have chosen the phoenix as well. She believed in miracles, and when she was a child she tried to walk on water. Not successfully, I’ll add.
First book you remember making an indelible impression on you.
Alice in Wonderland! Oh, how I loved that book. The characters, the silliness, the music of the language…the ever present possibility of danger but even more present that sense that all will end well, even if things are a bit crazy at the moment. I reread it every so often because it is a book that offers more to the reader as the reader brings more of her own experience to it. Thank you, Lewis Carroll!
How do you develop your plot and characters?
The two must be completely intertwined. One won’t work if the other doesn’t work. So the characters must be of their own time and place. A nineteenth century pioneer woman in the American prairies wouldn’t have the same sensibilities or goals or problems as, say, a seventeenth century duchess in Essex. Sure, there is a universality to the human experience, love and desire and fear. But the prairie pioneer would fear winter blizzards and failed crops; the duchess would fear loss of reputation and social failure. It’s the details that create the character. And the plot, for me, must be feasible. Could it have happened like this? If not, I won’t write it. My plots are strongly rooted in history and fact; I embellish with fictional characters and events.
Describe your writing space.
The chair is too hard. I really must get new cushions! I write at a long table cluttered with papers and books. The window is at my back, so I can get up and stretch and look out at my garden in the summer, and the snow drifts in the winter. I have a carved screen that partially separates the space from the rest of the room, and there is no phone in this room, no television, no distraction. Just me and the laptap and music on the radio because I can’t stand complete silence. I try to keep a little vase of fresh flowers on the table, to help lure me to my work. I love flowers as much as I dislike chocolate.
Thanks for inviting me to your place. Have a wonderful day!
An American woman becomes entangled in the intense rivalry between iconic fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in this captivating novel from the acclaimed author of The Beautiful American.
Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal.
When Lily Sutter, a recently widowed young American teacher, visits her brother, Charlie, in Paris, he insists on buying her a couture dress—a Chanel. Lily, however, prefers a Schiaparelli. Charlie’s beautiful and socially prominent girlfriend soon begins wearing Schiaparelli’s designs as well, and much of Paris follows in her footsteps.
Schiaparelli offers budding artist Lily a job at her store, and Lily finds herself increasingly involved with Schiaparelli and Chanel’s personal war. Their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights as the Nazis and the looming threat of World War II bear down on Paris.
“Sophisticated couture wars and looming world wars take center stage in Mackin’s latest, with a plot that buzzes with love triangles and political intrigue. A gorgeous meditation on art, fashion, and heartbreak. Stunning.”
–Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece
“Exquisitely melding world politics and high fashion, THE LAST COLLECTION is a smart, witty, heartfelt, and riveting look at the infamous rivalry between Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli set against a gripping period in history. Mackin’s powerful novel brings these characters to life and transports the reader, juxtaposing both the gaiety and tension of Paris on the brink of war. As elegant and captivating as the designs depicted in the novel, THE LAST COLLECTION is the perfect read for both historical fiction lovers and fashion aficionados. Simply stunning.”
–Chanel Cleeton, USA Today bestselling author of Next Year in Havana
“A wonderful story of two intensely creative women, their vibrant joie de vivre, and backbiting competition played out against the increasingly ominous threat of the Nazi invasion of Paris. Seamless research makes every character leap to life and kept me totally engaged from beginning to end.
–Shelley Noble, New York Times bestselling author of Lighthouse Beach
“A vibrant portrait of two designers cut from very different cloth, Jeanne Mackin’s THE LAST COLLECTION pits bold Coco Chanel and colorful Elsa Schiaparelli against each other in a fiery feud even as the ominous clouds of World War II darken the horizon. A captivating read!”
–Stephanie Marie Thornton, author of American Princess
“As Hitler and the Nazis gather strength and the world braces for war, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, whose politics differ as much as their couture, wage a war of their own. Lily Sutter, the woman who finds herself in the middle of their feud, has a battle of her own as she struggles to make a new start amidst extreme grief and loss. From New York to Paris, Jeanne Mackin takes the reader on an enthralling journey, complete with such vivid descriptions of the clothing, you can practically see them on the page. Beautifully rendered and meticulously researched, THE LAST COLLECTION is a must read.”
–Renée Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer
Read an excerpt:
“And now,” Charlie said, taking back his cap and tilting it over his forehead. “Schiaparelli it is. Your choice. But I have to make a quick phone call. We were supposed to meet someone at the Chanel salon.” He went into the café and was out again a minute later, smiling sheepishly. We prowled down lanes and avenues, dodging around fruit and vegetable carts, policemen on horses, jaywalking pedestrians, and other automobiles. We crossed over the Seine. “Pont Royal” Charlie shouted. “Remember?” A silver Seine, trees in full leaf, pots of geraniums on every stoop, under windows, rows of schoolchildren in uniform following black-and-white nuns, handsome gendarmes, and over it all, hanging like an invisible presence, the sense that this was the best place to be. June in Paris.
Jeanne Mackin ‘s latest novel, The Last Collection, A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel takes the reader to Paris, just before world war II, and the intense, dangerous rivalry between the two queens of fashion. Her previous novels include A Lady of Good Family, the award winning The Beautiful American, The Sweet By and By, Dreams of Empire, The Queen’s War, and The Frenchwoman.
Her historical fictions explore the lives of strong women who change their worlds…because we know the world always needs a lot of change! She has worked all the traditional ‘writers’ jobs’ from waitressing to hotel maid, anything that would leave her a few hours each morning for writing. Most recently, she taught creative writing at the graduate level. She has traveled widely, in Europe and the Middle East and can think of no happier moment than sitting in a Paris café, drinking coffee or a Pernod, and simply watching, while scribbling in a notebook.
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!a Rafflecopter giveaway