Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris1932 by Francine Prose (2014). A Post for Paris in July # 6

Paris in July # 6. , hosted by Tamara editor of one my favorite book blogs, Thyme for Tea, is a great event.  This is my fourth year as a participant.  There are posts on every thing from French movies, food, tours of Paris and of course there is the glorious French literature.  Paris has inspired writers and artists from all over the world like no other city.  

Not long ago I read an excellent nonfiction work by the well known American novelist Francine Prose, How to Read Like a Writer.  Several months ago I was kindly given a review copy of her latest novel, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.  I decided if I am ever going to read this book, I might as well do so during Paris in July # 6. 

Starting in Paris in 1932, the novel takes as its focal point a Paris nightclub, The Cameleon Club.  It is a place where sexual lines are blurred, homoeroticism is encouraged, decadence is the order of the day. This is the Paris the Germans saw as the height of depravity, while of course many a Nazi spent their evenings at the club.  There are five  narratives all covering pretty much the same events, mostly focusing on a Lesbian race car driver who will turn Nazi spy named Lou.  Each narrator sees things in their own way and this added interest to the work.

As I read on I ultimately found what kept me reading was the interesting narrative structure of the novel, wanting to see what outrageous thing would happen next, waiting for the Nazis to take over Paris and wondering how the various characters would end the novel.  As I passed the halfway point I had become fascinated by the narrative.  

I had to wonder what is being said about preWar Paris and the French.  They hardly come off with much nobility, the lead character tortures people for the Germans, the French seem to hate the Jews, there is your obligatory Baroness, a gay American movie director, and a kind of weird meeting with Hitler scene in which Lou is mesmerized by him.

I am glad I read Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.  I cannot really make a general recommendation that people unknown to me spend money and time on it.  

Mel u


Louise said...

It does sound a rather interesting read, perhaps not for everyone though as you say.

Jeanie said...

Thanks for an insightful post. I'm rather fascinated by the two wars and the period between but I confess that the whole collaboration issue -- and it's a big one -- always makes me edgy. I suspect we all like our Paris relatively pristine. Pretty or intriguing. But not mean. I may or may not take this one on but I'm glad to know about it.