Harper Collins, €13.99
Kathleen Tessaro's 'Elegance' is a simple story but its execution is beautiful, original and captivating. Not unlike many other stories of its genre, the heroine, Louise, loses love and sight of who she really is before finding true friendship, her true self and true love. But unlike other chick-lit books of recent years, 'Elegance' transcends the uniformity of this genre because of its driving force - a real-life book, also entitled 'Elegance', that author Tessaro found in a second-hand bookshop several years ago.
The original 'Elegance' was written by French fashion expert Genevieve Antoine Dariaux and Tessaro decided to use it as the guiding inspiration for her first novel. Dariaux's step-by-step book instructs women on how to be elegant and Tessaro uses many of the original headings, adapting the text to fit and introducing almost every chapter with an extract from the A-to-Z guide.
The result is a fascinating account of one woman's quest to become an elegant, graceful lady and how this transforms her life in unimaginable ways. Like the author, Louise stumbles across Madame Dariaux's book while browsing in a second-hand bookshop and when she vows to follow her advice, Louise begins a journey that will allow her to discover who she really is and what she really wants from life.
Although Madame Dariaux's book is the catalyst that leads to Louise's transformation, it is her own courage and acceptance that allows her true self to emerge from the shadows. In the end, she finds happiness not in the pages of this old book or in her wardrobe but in the people that she chooses to share her life with.