Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose

Since I read Hemingway, I have always been fascinated with Paris in the 20's & 30's. Teaming with great artists and writers, expats mostly writing about their new in Paris..oh it was decadent.
Author Francine Prose has captured it perfectly in her new book Lovers at the Chameleon Club. I love to read books that have been written with each chapter an entry by a different character. I think it gives a book a kind of excitement, a "don't want to put  it down, what is happening now" feel.
Prose has chosen to write about several characters, their lives all entwined, each one with their own problems and each one on their own paths. The French Resistance has begun and Hitler has started to rear his ugly head and all of France will be affected.
Lou Villars would be the central character..a young girl, who is mentored to become a famous woman athlete, who is attacked by her mentor and then she flees to the Chameleon Club where she cross dresses and becomes part of the burlesque show.
Gabor Tsenyi, a fledgling photographer, captures a photo of Villars and her lover that makes both subject and photog famous. We learn about his character in letters sent home to his parents.
Lionel Maine is  a struggling writer who writes about Paris in ways that get him banned. Prose reveals his character in his articles that are published.
 Lilly de Rotheschild, married to a gay Baron, falls in love with Tenysi and does everything she can to support his career. She is revealed in a memoir that she writes.
There are others just as interesting: Yvonne who owns the Chameleon Club, Suzanne who becomes the wife of Gabor Tsenyi and  Nathalie Dunois, great niece of Lou Villars, who is writing a novel based on the tragic life of her great- aunt.
So many characters usually make my head spin but the way this novel is put together by Prose, it all makes perfect sense and flows from one character to the next.
All is very loosely based on real lives and you can actually go on line and find the famous photo!
Very well written and a great choice for book clubs.
Harper Collins Publisher

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