Interview with Jeanne Mackin
What is something you’ve lied about?
Liking a friend’s taste in clothes. I would never tell her that the jacket printed with huge magenta flowers looks awful on her. Clothes are such a personal choice and when I was writing The Last Collection, which is based in the fashion industry, I realized that our taste reflects our past, present and hopes for the future. That should never be stepped on, never judged.
Who is the last person you hugged?
I’m answering this question during the lockdown period of the pandemic, and since I have asthma I’ve made my own lockdown a real marathon of solitude. I can’t remember who I last hugged. I just know who I can’t wait to hug again, soon. Wonderful friends. My hairdresser so I can get rid of the shag. I’m a very huggy person and doing that weird arm thing from a distance just isn’t the same, is it?
What are you reading now?
Thomas Merton’s The Wisdom of the Desert. Perfect reading for someone much given to solitude, with or without a pandemic. And since I tend to read several books at the same time, I’m also rereading Josephine Tey’s mystery novel, Brat Farrar because I always love a good English country house mystery, and Everybody Behaves Badly, by Lesely M.M. Blume, since I can’t get enough of fictions and histories set in early twentieth century Paris. That Hemingway crowd really knew how to party!
How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Painfully, after much soul searching and struggle, and I keep changing the title as I work. Titles are actually the hardest part of the writing, for me. Here you have this 120,000 word novel and you must find two or three or four words that describe it or introduce it. Aieee! I’ve found this trick, though. The first three or four seconds of consciousness, when I wake up in the morning, are full of buried treasure. If I fall asleep reminding myself of a task – think up a title – when my eyes open in the morning, before I’ve thought of anything else, the title may be there.
Share your dream cast for your book
Since I’m a fiction writer rarely based in a current timeline, this cast is going to come from all over! For Anya the beautiful and doomed Polish woman, I would cast the young Greta Garbo. Liza Minelli would be the flamboyant Elsa Schiaparelli and Marissa Berenson would be the cool and contained and Coco Chanel – strange in itself, since Marissa Berenson is actually Elsa Schiaparelli’s granddaughter, in real life. The young American woman, Lily Sutter, would be played by Scarlett Johansson, with her marvelous expressive face, and her brother, Charlie, would be played by the devastatingly charming young Jude Law. That has Jude Law playing a romantic lead with Greta Garbo. The screen would sizzle! Lily’s love interest would be played by the German actor, August Diehl, who like Scarlet is expressive and subtle.
Thank you for inviting me to your page. I hope your readers will enjoy my book!
GENRE: Historical Romance
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.
At the ball that night there were people whose faces I recognized, a blur of memory from my first evening in Paris at the Ritz, and many more people whom I didn’t recognize at all, men with military posture, women covered with jewels, men in dresses, women in tuxedos, ingénues in pastel gowns. And Charlie and Ania, beautiful Charlie and Ania, so immersed in each other’s gaze they could have been alone rather than dancing through crowded rooms.
…Coco arrived around eleven, in a diaphanous green gown that looked like fern fronds moving in a breeze when she moved. It was Coco, blending into nature, but still Coco.
Schiap arrived soon after, dressed, as she had promised, as a tree, covered in a rough brown cloth that looked like tree bark, with branches extending from her arms and the crown of her head. Several cloth and feather birds perched on her shoulders. Whimsical, humorous, always-make-it-look easy Schiap. Schiap got the louder applause when she made her entrance, and I saw Coco’s smile fade.
Who knew what was going through Coco’s mid that evening? Perhaps she had dreamed the night before of the orphanage, the father who had abandoned her and the mother who had died.
Perhaps she wasn’t thinking at all but only reacting, the way dry wood reacts when a match is put to it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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.
Penguin Random House – https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531859/the-last-collection-by-jeanne-mackin/
People are talking. What they are saying about The Last Collection:
“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
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.