November 2014 A monthly offering from Drexel Library’s staff about the books we’ve read.
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 : a novel
Francine Prose’s Lovers at the Chameleon Club describes the creative, lively, and dangerous world of Paris in the 30’s. The story is told from different accounts, from the brash male american novelist to the present day amateur researcher who is exploring the idea of evil and its many forms. Prose based the story on an actual photograph, “Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932” by Brassai, in which the cross dressing lesbian Violette Morris is sitting with her lover. Morris was the inspiration for the character Lou Villars, who is also an auto racer and failed Olympic hopeful. Like Morris, Villars’ character is banned from auto racing from the French and in anger betrays her country by working for the Gestapo during World War II.
The book is not simply a look at Villars’ life but also a look at how history is perceived and remembered through different voices. One source is from a photographer of the time, who tells his story through his letters home to his family in Hungary. Other versions are through memoirs, like the arts patron and Resistance member Baroness Lily de Rossignol who is looking back to a time in which Paris changed greatly from 1932 – 1944. Then there is the amateur historian, Nathalie Dunois, who seems to be writing the history to suit her own theories. Taken altogether, Lovers at the Chameleon Club presents not only a snapshot of that time in Paris but a look at how the time was remembered by those who experienced it.
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 : a novel is located in the Popular reading: nonfiction section on the first floor of the Post Learning Commons.