Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

A Novel

Book - 2014
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A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, exploring the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself. Paris in the 1920s. It is a city of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club's loyal denizens, including the rising photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol, and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine. As the years pass, their fortunes--and the world itself--evolve. Lou falls in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more sinister: collaboration with the Nazis. Told in a kaleidoscope of voices, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 evokes this incandescent city with brio, humor, and intimacy. A brilliant work of fiction and a mesmerizing read, it is Francine Prose's finest novel yet.
Publisher: New York :, Harper,, 2014.
ISBN: 9780061713781
Branch Call Number: FIC PROS
Characteristics: pages cm


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Dec 04, 2018

I almost gave up on reading this book because it was so confusing at the start with so many narrators and genres. I persisted, and I'm glad that I did.
I was conscious that my approach to the book changed dramatically once I realized that it was based on fact. I resisted the temptation to start googling the characters, and instead let the fictional book take me where it wanted me to go. There is a 'Cabaret'-style artifice to the book, which became increasingly dark as the narrative went on.
For my complete review see:

ser_library Apr 17, 2015

long, complex and beautifully written. i read the first quarter then gave up for lack of time and read the final chapters... but then skipped all through the middle. every voice is different.

Jan 17, 2015

loved the countess and her quirky Husband but Lou ? not so much she seemed to be sleep walking through most of the story yet it read well sometimes it got stuck in moral platitudes but not so much I couldn't stomach it.

athompson10 Oct 29, 2014

Very engrossing book. Through the alternating voices of several characters, the author takes the reader into Paris from the late 1920s to just before the end of World War II. Most of the main characters are not sympathetic but I did have sympathy for their difficulties in love, self-identity and making choices in an increasingly dark and brutal country. The only thing I didn't like about the book was the ending, which seemed inadequate.

ChristchurchLib May 25, 2014

"As a teenager, athlete and Olympic hopeful Louisianne “Lou” Villars travels to Paris, where she becomes a coat check girl at the infamous Chameleon Club, a cabaret favored by the city's bohemian demimonde, Lou falls in (and out of) love with performer Arlette, eventually achieving notoriety as a cross-dressing professional racecar driver with connections to the Nazi party. Inspired by the subjects of Brassaï's iconic 1932 photograph "Lesbian Couple at the Monocle," Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, draws on the real-life experiences of Violette Morris and her contemporaries." Historical Fiction May 2014 newsletter


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