The Many Lives of Miss K: Toto Koopman - Model, Muse, Spy

The Many Lives of Miss K: Toto Koopman - Model, Muse, Spy

by Jean-Noel Liaut
     
 

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A life of glamour and tragedy, set against the watershed cultural and political movements of twentieth-century Europe. "Toto" Koopman (1908–1991) is a new addition to the set of iconoclastic women whose biographies intrigue and inspire modern-day readers. Like her contemporaries Lee Miller or Vita Sackville-West, Toto lived with an independent spirit more

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Overview

A life of glamour and tragedy, set against the watershed cultural and political movements of twentieth-century Europe. "Toto" Koopman (1908–1991) is a new addition to the set of iconoclastic women whose biographies intrigue and inspire modern-day readers. Like her contemporaries Lee Miller or Vita Sackville-West, Toto lived with an independent spirit more typical of the men of her generation, moving in the worlds of fashion, society, art, and politics with an insouciant ease that would stir both admiration and envy even today. Sphinxlike and tantalizing, Toto conducted her life as a game, driven by audacity and style. Jean-Noël Liaut chases his enigmatic subject through the many roles and lives she inhabited, both happy and tragic. Though her beauty, charisma, and taste for the extraordinary made her an exuberant fixture of Paris fashion and café society, her intelligence and steely sense of self drove her toward bigger things, culminating in espionage during WWII, for which she was imprisoned by the Nazis in Ravensbruck. After the horrors of the camp, she found solace in Erica Brausen, the German art dealer who launched the career of Francis Bacon, and the two women lived out their lives together surrounded by cultural luminaries like Edmonde Charles-Roux and Luchino Visconti. But even in her later decades, Toto remained impossible for anyone to possess. The Many Lives of Miss K explores the allure of a freethinking and courageous woman who, fiercely protective of her independence, was sought after by so many but ultimately known by very few.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Born and raised in Java to a Dutch cavalry officer and a half-Indonesian woman, Catharina “Toto” Koopman (1908–1991) became one of the first biracial models to achieve fame in Paris in the late 1920s. In Liaut’s exuberant, though disorganized telling, her life reads like that of a spectacularly well-connected Bond girl. After becoming a fixture at parties in Paris and London, achieving notoriety through her affairs with such figures as American actress Tallulah Bankhead, British billionaire Lord Beaverbrook, as well as his son, she turned to politics, becoming a renegade spy for the Italian resistance and the Allies. Liaut provides few details about Koopman’s “ideological convictions” other than to state that she has them. During the war, she was imprisoned in Italy and sent to Germany’s Ravensbruck concentration camp. These dramatic turns in Koopman’s life are glossed over in only a few pages, with the narrative then giving way to a long list of artists, heiresses, and eccentrics that Koopman circulated among in her later years. She spent the rest of her life involved with the gallerist Erica Brausen, who financed Koopman’s lavish lifestyle. Liaut’s chronicle of Koopman’s life leans heavily on the superlative, while Koopman herself remains a mystery. The result is a gauzy tabloid account of a genuinely remarkable life. 8-page b&w photo insert. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
“This is one of the most wonderful books about a woman who lived her life on her terms in times that called for most to live by society’s rules. Recommend it? How about urge all to have an amazing experience and read about this woman who conquered convention and was a player in an unbelievably full life. You just can’t make up this stuff! Staggering! One of the best biographies that ever graced my eyes!” ~Jeffrey Felner, New York Journal of Books

Miss K is a fascinating read, not only for the sections pertaining to fashion, but also for the historical context they provide for this time period. Despite the glamorous aspects of her life, there are some parts of this book that detail the hard, cold facts… I’d encourage any fashion historian interested in the war and interwar years to pick up a copy.” ~Fashion Historian

"Now her cinematic life is getting the hagiography treatment in a fascinating and flawed new book, The Many Lives of Miss K..." ~Newsweek/The Daily Beast

The Many Lives of Miss K is a fascinating read. There is nothing missing in terms of accuracy and delicious recounting of the history itself. And although at times it reads quite factually, the book is chock-full of very personal, insightful, brow-raising, shocking, and extremely interesting information, that I just could not put this down. A definite page-turner that unfolds the life of a spectacular individual whose life could not be more incredible if it were fiction.” ~Examiner

“With such an exciting life Koopman had, this book is guaranteed to have any fashionista flipping through as many pages as she can each day!” ~Inside Fashion Chicago
 
 “I did judge and choose a book by its cover. I was hooked immediately, especially after reading the blurb…” ~Library Journal

“Jean-Noel Liaut gathers and presents the available information wonderfully, often speculating on but never conjuring the tale of this fascinating woman who never ceased reinventing and rediscovering herself.” ~Boxes of Paper Blog
 
“Love learning about these amazing brave women who we don’t hear enough about.” ~Champagne & Heels Blog

“...her cinematic life is getting the hagiography treatment in a fascinating and flawed new book…” ~Daily Beast

“If you wish to read about this strong-minded fashion model who defied a number of stereotypes then pick up Liuat’s book. The Many Lives of Miss K is a historically accurate work that is chock-full of facts pertaining to Koopman’s along with Europe’s history…Koopman’s life is so surreal. I assure you that Toto Koopman will top your favorite female heroines from even the best novels.” ~An Empowering Fashionista
 
“While not as celebrated as some other feminist figures, Toto Koopman certainly deserves her moments to shine, and I encourage anyone who wants a feel of the time, the people and the frenetic life of a social butterfly, to pick up this book.” ~I am, Indeed Blog

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847841295
Publisher:
Rizzoli
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Pages:
244
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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