Praise For Toto & Coco
Hers was a quite extraordinary life of contradictions - of pleasures and perils, of promiscuity and principles, of self-indulgence and self-sacrifice. Her story, captured in a compelling new book by Alan Frame, is an inspiring tribute to human powers of endurance
Tony Rennell, Daily Mail
“EXCELLENT, UNIQUELY INFORMED”
Impossibly exotic, beautiful, clever, glamorous and decadent — but then impossibly heroic and stoical.
Alan Frame’s excellent and uniquely informed history of Toto Koopman’s life before, during and then after World War Two, is a remarkable study in contrasts.
The book explores the complexities of being lover to both Lord Beaverbrook and his son, the fighter ace, Max Aitken.
It also follows her journey from a louche and privileged pre-war society of the rich, titled and totally amoral, to the cruelty, savage deprivations and pure evil of Ravensbrück.
In Coco Chanel we see her almost alter ego. Talented and hard working certainly, and universally fêted to the present day, but also a craven, scheming, morally bankrupt, anti-Semitic, Nazi lover and Nazi sympathiser.
The one almost entirely forgotten; the other universally remembered and still a byword for chic and sophistication.
Frame's book will make you think about then — and now. It is also a reminder of the what happens when extremism is allowed to run unchallenged
“DESERVES TO BE A BEST SELLER”
I was gripped by Toto & Coco because it reads more like a thriller than just another book about terrible 20th century events. The two main characters, Toto Koopman and Coco Chanel, once friends and inhabiting the same social circles, are vividly drawn and diverge so dramatically once WW2 came, shockingly so. A fabulous book which deserves to be a best seller.
This is an extraordinary book with a real historical record that was brought to life in wonderful detail on every page. Put simply, this is the most mesmerizing read of the year!
With a title like Toto and Coco, you might expect a children’s book or a book about dogs. Think again! Alan Frame’s book is utterly extraordinary and un-put-downable. The former Fleet Street executive has unearthed a true-life-and-death wartime spy saga laced with almost every human emotion imaginable – from unashamed debauchery and “pleasure without guilt” to the unbelievable hell of Ravensbrück, the wartime German concentration camp exclusively for women.
Before the war, Toto and Coco had been friends.
Coco is Coco Chanel, the Paris based, unimaginably rich and famous couturier and parfumier, who although close to Winston Churchill, took a Gestapo lover and became a Nazi agent.
Toto is actually Catherina Koopman, a glamorous, mixed-race, bisexual Vogue cover girl in pre-war Paris who had affairs with, among others, the celebrated press baron and wartime Cabinet minister Lord Beaverbrook before moving on (much more passionately) to a genuine love affair with his eldest son, Max Aitken.
She remained promiscuous, but to her credit, bravely passed on “pillow-talk” information to MI6 in London. “While she slept with the enemy” writes Frame, “she did so as a spy and not as a pleasure seeker.”
As war broke out she continued her espionage activities with the Italian Resistance, survived some narrow escapes, was imprisoned three in Italy, but was finally arrested and locked up in Ravensbrück, where she endured unspeakable horrors, including enforced sterilisation (with no anaesthetic), till finally she and other camp detainees were rescued towards the end of the war by the Swedish Red Cross. She weighed less than five stone.
After the war she partnered a new lesbian lover, Erica Brausen in a relationship which lasted 45 years till Toto died aged 82.
“ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATING”
A brilliantly written true story of two fascinating lives and yet so very differently lived. Thoroughly entertaining and educating in equal measure!
“A STUNNING READ”
I thought I knew quite a bit about these incredible ladies … but I was wrong. Poverty, extreme riches, deceit, sex, politics, betrayal, heroism, and so much more … a stunning read.
Brilliantly written and delivered by the author. What an amazing true account of two extraordinary lives that ultimately travelled in opposite directions. Spellbinding stuff!
“TWO FASCINATING WOMEN”
A lavishly rich and sometimes astonishing account of two fascinating women! The blurb coined it … Toto & Coco reveals the very best and the very worst of what can happen when the human spirit is taken to the edge. Wow, ain’t that the truth!