Gortner draws upon numerous primary sources (the book contains an extensive bibliography) to bring us into the world of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, who was born into an impoverished family and grew to fame for her easy-to-wear, practical designs that freed women of their corsets and allowed them to move in their clothes.
Gortner shows us the flawed, insecure woman behind what we now think of as classic fashions ... which were, at the time, revolutionary. We see a woman who takes lovers rather than marry, who is constantly in fear of what others might think of her ... and who is not always very nice.
We also see the politics of her time, which encompasses two world wars, a stock market crash, and more.
Highly readable and entertaining; I was reluctant to put the book down.