Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Prose, Francine
Series: P.s.
Subject:  FICTION / Biographical
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Historical
  FICTION / Literary
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: May 2015
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 464
Size: 8.00in x 5.31in x 1.04in
Our Price:
$ 23.25
Availability:
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

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 abandons her work as a server and performer at the Chameleon Club to become a talented race-car driver, hovering on the brink of success. She falls in love with a German driver, Inge, and is soon ensnared in a web of flattery and lies 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 Paris with brio, humor, and intimacy. A brilliant work of fiction and a mesmerizing read, it is Francine Prose's finest novel yet.

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, 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.

Review Quote*"A reading experience like none other-a shimmering library of possible truths and forking pathways…Readers of this extraordinary novel become Villars' co-biographers, piecing through ‘official' and underground accounts as ample (and as unreliable) as the human library of memory. I was addicted to this book."
Review Quote*"Prose's latest book goes further in destroying the concept of a single truth than ‘Rashomon.' It's also an uproarious portrait of Paris from the mid-twenties to the Second World War. Prose has always been adept at slaying sacred cows; in this book, she pretty much machine-guns them."
Review Quote*"An engrossing literary mystery…Refracting the vivid, villainous life of Louisianne Villars through letters, memoirs, and the recreations of a biographer, Prose coaxes into kaleidoscopic view both a tortured human being and bohemian Paris before and during the Nazi occupation… she cleverly exploits the vain, self-serving nature of memory itself."
Review Quote*"A pitch perfect pastiche that interrogates the meaning of art and the limits of loyalty. With a style that is beautiful, strong, modest and absolutely authoritative Prose directs the light of her immense talent on the horrors of fascism and the puzzling, sometimes punishing nature of love. A great novel."
Review Quote*"Significant writers are rare. A writer like Prose, who is not only significant but capable of writing brilliantly about pretty much anything-from obsessive love to religious ecstasy to life in Paris in the twenties and beyond-is not only rare. She is, essentially, the Hope Diamond of literature."
Review Quote*"Brilliant and wicked and funny and right on-never has Europe been done with such savage precision…Every bit funny and appalling, at the end especially, of course. There's not a French affectation, hypocrisy or depravity left untouched. I love it!"
Review Quote*"Prose is the real chameleon here, blending effortlessly into half a dozen disparate voices…The result is a perfect stunner, the novel-as-a Picasso, or a kaleidoscope-vivid, fractured, and spellbinding…Prose is one of our sharpest critics and our most daring novelists, and this is her best book."
Review Quote*"The breadth, nerve and intricacy of Francine Prose's big new novel should surprise even her most regular readers. A bona fide page turner…"