Faites que le rêve dévore votre vie, afin que la vie ne dévore votre rêve … (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable

Title: Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable
Author: Hélène Millerand
Publisher: Editions du Seuil, 1992
Language: French
185 pages
"Les carnets d'une coquette raisonnable" is one of those books that you wished you could buy for each one of your girlfriends.  It is the ultimate beauty handbook but it encompasses much, much more than simple beauty tricks. 

The cover sets the tone for the whole book.  It is exquisite in its understated beauty and simplicity.  Delicately ribbed with a drawing of a lady sitting on what could be a Récamier, it seems to promise its reader a world of secret revelations within.  

The content did not disappoint me. It elevates the epicurean lifestyle to a whole new level of grace.

There are few illustrations and photos in the book, mostly from old French posters or adverts and they are only in black and white.  But they are all lovely and reflect the mood of the book perfectly.

 The book is divided in four main chapters:
1. Bath and Beauty
2. Clothes, Shoes and Accessories
3. Hygiene and Exercises
4. Love and Health

The first chapter is by far the best one in my opinion. The bath ritual becomes an art form in this book.  The author describes in extreme details the bath ritual and explains the care to be given for each part of the body.  It was marvelous to read through her step-by-step instructions as how to prepare oneself for a bath.

In the second chapter, Hélène Millerand details the perfect wardrobe any woman should have. You won't find the most recent fashion fad here.  She gives you a general overview of what makes an elegant woman.  What I like most was the section concerning undergarments. It was very informative.

Reading the third chapter felt like hearing my own mother and grandmother nag me constantly about protecting my skin from the sun.  Guess what? That advice is still good and all dermatologists will tell you to wear sunblock and wear your hat!   But the part where the author talks about old-wives medicine still has me wondering if it really does work.  Best way to find out is to try them out I suppose.

The fourth chapter is not so much a chapter as it is a Conclusion. It was only 2 pages long and the author shares her conservative views about marriage and having children.  This ending is a little abrupt as the reader goes from self-indulgent body care to family duties and obligations but it cannot really spoil the incredible feeling that the book had given me.


  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful blog! It's original and very pleasant to read. I'm seduced.
    I think that I'd love this book. I've got a huge preference for the chapters 1 and 2. Like you know, the exercices part doesn't arouse the same enthusiasm in my heart. Nevertheless, I could envisage to make some efforts with an extraordinary trainer. lol
    Congrats bella and good luck for the continuation! I'm looking forward to discovering the next posts.

  2. this book looks great to me! and as I am a fashionista I think the chapter 2 would be very suitable 2 me! lol plus I love the word "coquette" in the title !

  3. Hi Lau! I agree with the extraordinary trainer :P

    Thanks Rachel. The "coquette" is the reason I bought the book in the first place :)