Let me begin by telling you that I'm not into high fashion. At all. Every month I skim through the Canadian fashion magazine that I subscribe to and wonder why in the heck I subscribed in the first place. I find most of the fashions found in the pages ridiculous and overpriced. Secondly, let me tell you that I don't normally read non-fiction. I prefer the escape from reality that fiction brings, and I tend to favour it.
So, I was as surprised as anyone when I picked up Michael Tonello's "Bringing Home the Birkin" and I was absolutely, completely mesmerized from the first page. I let the housework pile up and the phone ring as I read through the book in about three days (no small feat for someone with three young children and a part-time job!). It's not just Tonello's story that drew me in, it was his writing style as well.
We follow Tonello as he takes a leap of faith and moves to Barcelona, a city that he's fallen in love with, to become the middle man for a jewlery designer in America. Tonello arrives in Barcelona, signs a five year lease, and promptly finds out that his job offer has fallen through. He doesn't let this get him down, however, and he cleans out his closets by selling his no longer necessary clothing on e-bay. One item in particular, an Hemes scarf, inspires such a bidding war that he knows he's on to something. With the help of a few new friends who are experts on the Hermes brand, Tonello becomes a Power Seller on e-Bay in no time, reselling all things Hermes. The natural progression is for him to find Birkin bags, an extremely hot-ticket item, and sell them online to his more than willing customers.
This is how we find ourselves joining Tonello on his search for the world's hottest handbag. We follow him to city after city, from Hermes store to Hermes store, and we watch him develop a formula for securing a handbag that most have to wait more than two years for. And we have a lot of fun along the way!
I was fascinated by Michael Tonello's search, and hung on tightly for the entire journey. Maybe I was fascinated by the opulence evident throughout the book, the glimpse of a life where it's nothing to spend more on a handbag than what I would spend on a car, but I know that in the end I was glad to discover that I enjoyed peeking at the life of another, but I wouldn't give up my own simple lifestyle for any money in the world (although I could use a new purse!) A very enjoyable, exciting read, and this book will be making it's way into my permanent collection as well.
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