Lovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel

Paperback | May 5, 2015

byFrancine Prose

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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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From the Publisher

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...

From the Jacket

Scandalized and celebrated by Parisian society, Lou Villars is an extraordinary athlete who is confident that one day she will be an inspiration for her gender. She's also a lesbian and cross-dresser who finds a safe haven in the Chameleon Club, a louche nightspot.As the exuberant 1920s give way to the depression of the 1930s, Lou aban...

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novelA Changed Manwon the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, andBlue Angelwas a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimedAnne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and theNew York TimesbestsellerReading Like a Writer....

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.05 inPublished:May 5, 2015Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061713805

ISBN - 13:9780061713804

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Customer Reviews of Lovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lovers in a Dangerous Time Francine Prose: Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932. Francine Prose is an excellent writer, yet it may be so that this title, her latest book, is really the best of them all. We are in the decadent pre-WWII, Paris. Cross-dressing, homosexuality, and a lack of reason is the rule of the day. Via the fate of several people, connected with the Chameleon Club, we follow the shift of the society from a proud, self-important France, to the bitter end of German occupation and cowardly cooperation. The evil is concentrated in the cross-dressing lesbian car-racer Lou Villars, who feels misunderstood and repeatedly betrayed by her female lovers, and is thirsting for revenge. She finds her collaboration with the Nazis most satisfying, and even though she thinks of herself as a French nationalist, she, like Hitler, ends up hating her nation, because it hasn’t proved strong enough and worthy of her admiration. There are many beautiful types, Baroness Lily de Rosignol, the kind, quietly suffering, lady; her secret love, the artist Gabor; and the club owner, the reliable Yvonne. The book is written in the form of letters and several sorts of quasi-manuscripts, either secret ones, or those meant for publication, and a biography of Lou. Those are Interesting devices, and reading them we sense a strong feeling of the twilight of European civilization. I like it very much that Francine Prose always tells the reader when and where we are. The constant feeling about the historical context, which, in real life plays such an important role, is very clear in her work. And the last sentence of the book is prophetic: A bloody arm rises again and again from the grave, “just when we in the audience are thinking that the murderous girl is dead and that the danger is over”. It is a warning. Here the author is a critic and a prophet, fulfilling the role that was from time immemorial the basic role of story-telling.
Date published: 2015-10-23

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Editorial Reviews

“Epic...this world takes on a depth and breadth that justifies the novel’s sweeping ambitions