My review of Patricia Volk’s Shocked is my first review of a memoir for the Jewish Book World. I looked forward to this assignment because I have a thing for the French fashion world, la haute couture, and so reading about how eccentric fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli influenced author Patricia Volk was going to be a treat no matter what.

Then the book arrived, and already I loved the book jacket. You can see it’s pink (going along with Schiaparelli’s love for outrageous pink) but it’s also textured like a dyed exotic leather purse.

Shocking by Schiaparelli was
Volk’s mother’s favorite
perfume – the only real
link between the two women

Read my review to see what I thought, but let me just say this here – it’s a fun read for women (serious but not heavy and mainly comical because the characters seem slightly exaggerated). It will make you think about all those rules and sayings you inherited from your mother, grandmother, aunt, etc., what’s proper and what’s not, what to wear when and how, and just in general how to be a woman. Volk’s mother was big on rules and guidance (while Schiaparelli was big on defying them). One of her mother’s rules from the chapter on choosing a husband that stuck with me: “Never let a man see waste in your kitchen sink drain.” It haunts me every time I clean up the kitchen!

This is an example of how ingenious Schiaparelli was – she invented this
sweater with the bow knitted in, wore it to some fancy meeting, and next
thing she knew, she was hiring immigrant women to knit it en masse.
She was a great example of how to be a success by being yourself.