Top positive review
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"Your lover's jealousy knows you better than you do."
on April 26, 2014
I love this quote. In many ways it encapsulates the enmeshed stories of the characters struggling in Nazi dominated France. The genius of these stories is its success in capturing the inevitable interaction of the personal with the decisions of the much larger political and moral war. The Chameleon Club had cast itself as the home of the alienated and the independent. Through its doors the denizens of radically different philosophies mix in a studied decadence. But it is their views of each other that reveal the souls that each hides.
A unifying character is Lou, the woman twisted by the expectations of others but ultimately most comfortable in the life of a man and the lover of women. How did she become a deadly Nazi collaborator. How did the somewhat whiney photographer, Gabor, move from his pursuit of fame into an artist with a conscious? Most important, it is clear that we still will never know the truth.
While I found the setting compelling, the plot can wander into the long winded. As I noted, I found Gabor almost unbearable at the start of the novel, and for that matter unbelievable at the end. In attempting to specify the ambiguities facing the characters, sometimes too much detail is spun. Nonetheless, I found this to be a book with much to commend it. I think the truth that none of us knows all our own secrets is well documented in a fascinating trope.