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Word Count: 754
Eau de rancour Coco and Igorby Chris GreenhalghReview 12 pp311Chanel and Stravinsky enjoyed love in the afternoon for a few months during the summer of 1920 He had lost his wealth to the Bolsheviks she lodged him for free at her villa outside Paris together with a consumptive wife a brood of children a pianola and an aviary of vocally trained parrots In the autumn she exchanged him for a younger and more sportingly virile Russian aristocrat who had helped to kill RasputinAs consolation she secretly subsidised a revival of Stravinskys ballet The Rite of Spring in which the carnivorous maternal earth gobbles up a sacrificial victim He presented her in return with a triple icon a sanctimonious souvenir of Mother Russia For a while she thought he might have made her pregnant Instead she delivered a perfume into the world this was the year as Chris Greenhalgh says in which Chanel No 5 was bornFrom the ephemeral liaison of the milliner and the musician Greenhalgh has elicited a fine entrancingly poetic novel He does his best to equalise the partners emphasising Chanels wealth her business-like cunning and her erotic egotism while showing Stravinsky to be morally craven and emotionally thwartedThis is a man who scores the Great War rather than experiencing it The shells whistled over the trenches in E flat Carnally Chanel is as frank and vulgar as nature itself when it groans in satiation during The Rite of Spring For Stravinsky after the decorous procreative drill of sex with his wife the raw pleasure of rutting with Coco is like the sudden and liberating discovery of jazz Their orgasms are bitonal as if two clarinets were playing simultaneously in harshly conflicting keysChanel startles Stravinsky by making it clear she considers her work to be just as significant as his He retaliates by reminding her that shes just a shopkeeper but Greenhalgh deftly uncovers a complicity between their artistic aims A common loathing
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