Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TLC Book Tours Book Review: Lovers At The Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

About Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

• Print Length: 448 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 22, 2014)
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.
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Review: I have to admit that this book was a bit difficult for me to read, yet I was totally fascinated by some of the characters.

I was intrigued by Lou, who the vast majority of the story is about. She is a woman that history is trying to forget. I also liked Gabor. He was really an interesting character, and I loved his articles and letters.

When I read the opening pages, I thought maybe this book was going to be something like Moulin Rouge, but that isn't the half of it. Lou's character is based on Violette Morris and as I found out more about her, it became a little easier to read the book.

I think I would have enjoyed the story more, if it weren't told from so many different sources, but they all link back to Lou. It felt a bit disjointed to me at the times at the beginning, but as the story developed it was easier to piece each character's role in Lou's sad tale.

It was a slow read and one I had to put down a few times, but not because the story or anything about it was bad, but it wasn't light reading for me, especially knowing that there had been a woman out there like Lou Villars.

She's a character you really didn't know how to feel about. In some ways you felt terribly sorry for her. Her life wasn't all that great and she ended up being brain washed by the Nazis, which led to her becoming a spy and a torturer.

It is a fascinating period of time and Lou's story is a unique one.

It wasn't an easy read, but it was definitely worth reading.

Rating: 4 flowers

About Francine ProseFrancine Prose

Francine Prose is the author of twenty works of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife and the New York Times bestsellerReading Like a Writer. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives in New York City.


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

The multiple perspectives on the same story intrigue me - I'm curious to see how each person views the situation.

Thanks for being on the tour.

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