Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel

By Francine Prose
Publisher:Harper, (4/22/2014)

Average Rating:
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3.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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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 shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place 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 Hungarian 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 desperately in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly 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—sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more.

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Ceci's thoughts on "Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel"
updated on:7/1/2014

A good read, but slightly disappointing. It’s not the ending that disappoints. In fact, the ending will breed some lively debate for book groups. It’s that the story fails to keep up with the characters who inhabit it. A sampling: A cross-dressing, lesbian, race-car driving, Nazi collaborator; a fabulously talented, mama’s boy Hungarian photographer who opens the Parisian’s eyes to Paris; and two (!) beautiful French resistance fighters, one rich, one poor, both fabulous and in love with the Hungarian photographer. Amazing creations all, and all do a wonderful job in describing the ecstasies and agonies of living in Paris prior to, and during World War II. Beyond that things start to fall a bit flat. The dramatic plot just cannot compete with the melodramatic characters. Still, I found this a worthy read. The multiple narrators keep things interesting and they are each fascinating in their own way – holding just enough back to keep you curious and wanting more.

Unleash it

"Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel"
By Francine Prose

Average Rating:
Unleash it
3.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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