For this special dovegreyreader asks... special because it has slightly more questions than usual and special because it is the first time a writer has done this twice, I have pulled out the even more special picture that Bookhound drew for Adele Geras when Adele sat in the virtual armchair as one of my first guests, and of course there's you-know-who sitting in the chair:-)
It was my pleasure to finally meet Adele last week when she was visiting the Appledore Book Festival here in Devon, more of which soon, but having been inadvertently blessed with a spare copy of Justine's biography of Coco Chanel I gave it to her, knowing what a fashion-lover she is and I really hope Adele enjoys this book as much as I have done.
Meanwhile my thanks to Justine who has taken time out of a hectic schedule to answer my questions, and how sorry I was not be in London for the launch party at Claridges, but all is not lost, Cornflower did make it to the Edinburgh event.
Why Coco Chanel and why now?
I've always been fascinated by her, for as long as I can remember -- all the way back to my childhood, when my mother had a bottle of Chanel no. 5, and it seemed to me to represent everything that was grownup and sophisticated -- the essence of what it might mean to be a woman. It's been bubbling away for a long time -- ever since I went to see Chanel's private apartment in Paris, at the end of 1997. So although the book has just emerged, the idea took root over a decade ago.
Your experiences whilst writing this book that takes you so close to such an iconic figure seem to have been full of memorable moments...
Knowing what you already knew about Chanel before embarking on the book, where there any surprises in store as you researched? Any very unexpected revelations?
There were a great many unexpected revelations about Chanel that turned up during the course of my research. I don't want to reveal all the twists and turns of the narrative in my book -- it would be like giving away a spoiler in a spy story! -- but it does involve double agents and double dealings in the Second World War, that seemed to me to be as thrilling as a Graham Greene plot.
I was also surprised by the connections that Chanel had with the British -- I knew that her first lover was an Englishman, Boy Capel, but I hadn't realized that she had spent a great deal of time in the UK, until I started searching through various archives in this country, as well as the Chanel Conservatoire in Paris.
I would want her to tell me more -- about her childhood, about her nephew Andre, about the men she loved and lost, and those she walked away from... I'd still be the one asking all the questions.But if I were to tell her anything, it would be that her tenacity and unquenchable stubbornness is still inspiring. And that people still care...