* I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
It took me a little while (around three weeks) to finish this book as I was going though hard times. Nonetheless, I think it was precisely the best time to pick it up as it gave me the life advice I needed the most.
Where do I start? Maybe with the core topic: Elizabeth Arden. To be fully honest, I did not know anything about that woman before reading the book, except that she had created a beauty empire in the 20th century.
Mixed povs in a well-researched book
The book is a mix between the author’s autobiography and Elizabeth Arden’s biography, the two being intricately intertwined. The author has indeed followed Arden’s steps as far as work is concerned, climbing the corporate ladder at the company her role model had created. I loved how the two stories were intertwined without it feeling « unnatural ». For instance, when a chapter was dedicated to Elizabeth’s struggles with her love life, the following one was about Lou’s similar struggles in the same area of life. Thus, we were able to see how Lou could follow Elizabeth’s steps and get herself out of difficult situations by looking up to this role model.
Moreover, I must say that I really appreciate the research behind the book. The author is not « only » a fan of Elizabeth Arden, but a person who knows how to research. Doing academic research myself, it is often something I miss in books that lack a bibliography. Here, we are provided with a thorough bibliography that allows us to see how well-researched (and so, reliable) the book is but also to dive further into Elizabeth Arden’s life if we want to.
Problems with the layout
I want to get that out of the way immediately so that it is done and never talked about again. I would love to say that my reading experience was picture perfect but it was not. The book is almost perfect, except for a few grammatical incoherences, but I struggled with the layout on my Kindle version. The chapters and parts did not start in the beginning of a new page and the parts dedicated to Louise seemed to come « out of nowhere », indicated only with a dash. I would have preferred a clearer way to draw the limit between Louise and Elizabeth’s stories, even though it was easy to understand while reading the book. However, there are things that can be improved from an aesthetic perspective.
Nonetheless, I loved how the author thought about translating French terms. I may not be the best reader for that part of the book as I am French myself and, naturally, fluent in that language. However, when trying to be objective, I think I can say that the translations are clear enough for non-French speakers to understand the whole of the book. I highly appreciated the « couleur locale » and the fact the author decided to let French words percolate her paragraphs.
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A message that resonated with me
As I wrote earlier, I read this book in a time of my life that is still difficult right now, but getting a lot better. Here, you will read an honest talk about ambition and what true success can mean. You will read about a woman who sacrificed herself to a job she loved, and you will see that what shines from the outside is not always as shiny on the inside. You will also see, on a similar note, that it is natural to compartiment your life and put out different versions of yourself for different people. You will definitely see that you are not alone, and that it is not always the healthiest thing to do. However, it is important, I think, to read a book written by someone courageous enough to understand that in order to inspire, you need to be natural, not « picture perfect ».