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Most of the first hour of this book borders on smut. After that, it's worth listening to for the intricate history of this famous fragrance.
The story of Chanel No. 5 involves the Romonovs, tales of industrial espionage, international incidents, political intrigues, celebrities, and marketing ploys that were, at times, pure genious and, at other times, pure folly.
I found the story, itself, to be enchanting. The presentation of the story, however, suffered from too much emphasis on sexual themes, occassional profanity (once or twice, but too much, in my opinion), and, mostly due to the meanderings into subjective opinions about the sensuality of the fragrance, a lack of cohesion. Thus the reduction of two stars from the Overall score.
The narrator, Liz de Nesnera, did a good job with the material. She wasn't stellar, but she wasn't bad. I listened at a speed of 3x.
If you're interested in the life of Coco Chanel, the history of the Chanel company, Chanel No. 5, or in the perfume industry, in general, this book is worth the money or the credit.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I liked the story and was intrigued by how much impact one "little perfume" had. I found myself curious to know more about the Chanel firm - beyond Number 5 that is. Does a very good story of placing the story against cultural and historical background. I was not too keen on the narrator. Somewhat annoying voice, and her pronunciation of Coco sounded like Cuckoo, which got a bit wearing. I think she should stick to regular pronunciation for that word, and some of the other "foreign" words.
All in all a great book, and recommended for anyone wanting to know more about Chanel and the incredible importance of this product to the company.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Secret of Chanel No. 5? What did you like least?
I enjoyed delving deeper into the story of the world's most famous perfume. It was interesting to learn how it came about, and the behind the scenes wrangling that went on for decades. It isn't a particularly scholarly read and light on detail in some parts. Unfortunately the narrator was extremely irritating to the extent that I couldn't concentrate on the story.
Who was your favorite character and why?
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The narrator had a very annoying way of pronouncing French words. Whenever she pronounced a French word it sounded bizarre, forced and affected. As others have noted she repeatedly pronounces Coco like cuckoo. Very jarring and I was constantly braced waiting for the next French word.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
Any additional comments?
In summary this is a great book if you like perfume and like finding out how perfumes are created. There are much better biographies of Coco Chanel herself but this book's focus is more about the perfume and the intense relationship the designer had with it. However the story is somewhat ruined by the narration.