Elegance, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


The Sunday Times bestseller and one of the most talked-about novels of 2003, now in paperback. Elegance. Audrey Hepburn had it. Grace Kelly had it. Louise Canova does not. Until one day, browsing in a second-hand bookshop, Louise stumbles over a faded hardback.

Elegance is an A--Z of style, written by French fashion expert, Madame Antoine Dariaux: a veritable what-not-to-wear in print. When Louise starts to follow Madame's advice, her life is transformed.

From Accessories to Zippers, there is nothing Madame cannot advise upon, including types of husband (the blind, the ideal, the dictator) and shopping with girlfriends (don't). Within the book's pages Louise finds clues to her own past. And as she begins to unravel them, she discovers a courage she never thought possible.

For true elegance cannot be attained until she is comfortable in her own skin: only then might love flourish.




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One woman's voyage of self-discovery fraught with love, loss, and low self-esteem spurred by a little book on elegance. Depressed and dowdy housewife Louise Canova finds a slim volume on elegance in a second-hand bookshop and resolves to turn her life around. As she sheds her old lifestyle, she discovers that looking the part is only half the battle. Protagonist Louise must deal with toxic friendships, a failed marriage, and her own deep-rooted childhood insecurities and neuroses; this version of Bridget Jones entertains greater depth and more character development. As her exterior look evolves, Louise deals with a latent eating-disorder, a perpetually depressing therapist, and a loss of comforting self-identity that leaves the protagonist whirling through several personality changes that end in something resembling happiness. The writing style is a curious blend of middle class Britishism tempered by classic French aesthetics as pages from Louise’s secondhand copy of “Elegance” are scattered throughout the book. The frank look at the intersection of gender and culture is less than kind at times but never facetious as the female protagonist works her way through its impact on her life. Half a star for occasional gender stereotyping.

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