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Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.
The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.
“I loved this story of two ambitious women who dare to envision brilliant futures for themselves and refuse to settle for anything less. Judithe Little has created a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the rags-to-riches rise of fashion’s most intriguing icon.”
—Elise Hooper, author of The Other Alcott and Fast Girls
“Triumphant yet heartbreaking, this so true-to-life story of the fabulous Chanel sisters hits all the right notes: luxury settings, especially Paris, love and betrayal, and family bonds that both build and bind. Judithe Little has a big gift she shares with us in The Chanel Sisters. I loved this great escape.”
—Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of The Queen's Secret
“A stirring rags-to-riches story to be sure, but more than that, The Chanel Sisters explores with care the timeless need for belonging, purpose, and love, and the heart’s relentless pursuit of these despite daunting odds. Beautifully told to the last page.”
—Susan Meissner, bestselling author of The Last Year of the War
“With compassion, sensitivity, and dashes of humor, Judithe Little masterfully reveals the little-known story of Coco Chanel’s younger sister, Antoinette. From a convent orphanage to the rue Cambon in Paris, this meticulously researched and emotionally enveloping narrative about the sisters’ determined climb out of poverty and into high society is historical fiction at its finest. Antoinette Chanel will capture your heart. If you read only one book this year, make it The Chanel Sisters.”
—Ann Weisgarber, award-winning author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree