It's a rare thing for me to pre order a book so that I can be assured of delivery the day it's released. In fact, I've only done it once before, for a certain world saving wizard.
The book that arrived at my place of work this lunchtime is about as removed from that previous order as it's probably possible to be; for today I have received into my possession Justine Picardie's new book 'Coco Chanel: The Legend and the life'.
Obviously I have not finished reading the book (I'm on page 40, but work is too busy to allow for gratuitous book reading ....), but here's a few things I've already noticed.
Firstly, the cover ....
It's actually a little less distinctive than this ... there's a certain smoky quality to the image that perhaps reflects the mystery around which Mademoiselle is surrounded. Of course this is just the dust jacket, and if you're anything like me, you'll be wondering how different the base cover is.
Opening the cover, in order to remove the jacket, you are first presented with a plethora of mirror images of Chanel, on her famous staircase where she watched the models parading her fashions. Life the flap and a pure white cover is revealed, with a shadowy Karl Lagerfeld sketch of Chanel. Further surprises await you on the back cover, but I don't want to spoil the pleasure completely.
As for the contents themselves .... it would be fair to say they draw you in from the first. Who else admits to the guilty pleasure of picking up a biography, thumbing through the pictures, then putting back on the shelf? You can't do that with Justine's book. There are photographs, designs, motifs, dotted throughout - almost as if you are being led on a hunt, and these are the clues to help you.
In a way, that is reflective of the woman herself; and mirrors, with their reflections, are another theme that run through the first few pages. Who are we seeing? Which version of childhood are we going to believe? There's so much mystery, but in a way that's what made her name, and helped her to keep it.
I'm enthralled already, and it's only just begun. Who knows what surprises lay ahead?