We’re always on the lookout for books that strike a chord with our readers. In our New & Notable series you’ll find selections that appeal to our editors and that we’d like to share. This week, Grace Coddington’s memoir is finally here, Lisa Cohen intertwines the lives of three complicated women, and Elena Ferrante reminds us of the beauty of friendship.

 

Memoir | Photography | Fashion

Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue have made her an international icon. With the witty, forthright voice that has endeared her to her colleagues and peers for more than forty years, Grace now creatively directs the reader through the storied narrative of her life so far. Her memoir, Grace, reveals her private world with equal candor—the car accident that almost derailed her modeling career, her two marriages, the untimely death of her sister, Rosemary, her friendship with Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis, and her thirty-year romance with Didier Malige. Finally, Grace describes her abiding relationship with Anna Wintour, and the evolving mastery by which she has come to define the height of fashion. (Excerpted from Random House, publisher.)

 

Review

“Ms. Coddington’s work as an editor does not outglam her youthful adventure stories. But it’s at the heart of this book, and she presents it with both passion and whimsy. She fills the book with comedic little sketches and handily caricatures many friends and colleagues. Her captions are wittily self-explanatory.” —The New York Times

 

Non-Fiction | Biography | 20th Century Women

Esther Murphy was a brilliant New York intellectual who never finished the books she was contracted to write. Mercedes de Acosta had intimate friendships with the legendary actresses and dancers of the twentieth century. An icon of haute couture and a fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland held bracing views on dress that drew on her feminism, her ideas about modernity, and her love of women. Existing both vividly and invisibly at the center of cultural life, she—like Murphy and de Acosta—is now almost completely forgotten. In All We Know, Lisa Cohen describes these women’s glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy. At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself, All We Know explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives. (Excerpted from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, publisher.)

 

Review

“Fascinating . . . vivid . . . a gossipy yet deeply intellectual account of the first generation of women who considered themselves ‘modern’ . . .  All We Know is a revolutionary take on the genre of biography, aiming not so much at each of its three subjects but at their generation and how it struggled to invent female personhood for the 20th century.”—Newsday

 

Fiction | Women | Friendship | Italy

My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. (Excerpted from Europa Editions, publisher.)

Review

“One of the more nuanced portraits of feminine friendship in recent memory—from the make-up and break-up quarrels of young girls to the way in which we carefully define ourselves against each other as teens—Ferrante wisely balances her memoir-like emotional authenticity with a wry sociological understanding of a society on the verge of dramatic change.” —Vogue