Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel by Francine Prose
A tour de force of character, point of view and especially atmosphere, Prose's latest takes place in Paris from the late 1920s till the end of World War II.
The primary locus of action is the Chameleon Club, a cabaret where entertainment edges toward the kinky. Presiding most nights is Eva “Yvonne” Nagy, a Hungarian chanteuse and mistress of the revels. The name of the club is not strictly metaphorical, for Yvonne has a pet lizard, but the cabaret is also famous as a place where Le Tout-Paris can gather and cross-dress, and homosexual lovers can be entertained there with some degree of privacy. One of the most fascinating denizens of the club is Lou Villars, in her youth an astounding athlete and in her adulthood a dancer (with her lover Arlette) at the club and even later a race car driver and eventually a German spy in Paris during the Occupation. Villars and Arlette are the subjects of what becomes the era’s iconic photograph, one that gives the novel its title. This image is taken by Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, eventual lover (and later husband) of sexual athlete Suzanne Dunois. Tsenyi is also a protégé of Baroness Lily de Rossignol, former Hollywood actress, now married to the gay Baron de Rossignol, the fabulously wealthy owner of a French car manufacturing company. Within this multilayered web of characters, Prose manages to give almost every character a voice, ranging from Tsenyi’s eager letters home to his parents, excerpts from a putative biography of Lou Villars (supposedly written by Suzanne’s great-niece) entitled The Devil Drives: The Life of Lou Villars, Lily de Rossignol’s memoirs and further reminiscences by Lionel Maine, Suzanne’s lover before she was “stolen away” by the photographer.
Brilliant and dazzling Prose.
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
An examination of how to change how you use your time.
"You can't manage time. Time never changes," writes Washington Post journalist Schulte. "There will always and ever be 168 hours in a week." So the question remains: How do we manage time so the sense of being overworked, of dealing with never-ending responsibilities and the endless need to check the flood of information constantly available doesn’t swamp us? Through careful, extensive research, the author explores the multiple levels where humans waste time and offers concrete advice on how to reclaim those lost moments. Today's workplace is still built around the outdated notion of the "ideal worker"—usually a man who can devote concentrated hours to the task at hand—and doesn't take into account the millions of women now juggling a full-time career with family life. Schulte advocates for a new system that provides flexibility in hours, paid maternal and paternal leave, and consideration of the desire for more freedom and leisure time. Women constantly multitask, coping with the multiple demands of housework, cooking and child care, which often leaves them feeling fragmented, exhausted, and with little or no time for themselves. This arena must become more balanced, writes the author, with both parents assuming equal responsibilities in all departments. Regarding leisure, Schulte looks to the Danes, who have one of the best ratios of work-to-vacation time in the world; they average a 37-hour workweek and six weeks of paid vacation, and long hours at the office are actually frowned upon. Backed by numerous examples, Schulte’s effective time-management ideas will be helpful in stamping out ambivalence and will empower readers to reclaim wasted moments, so life becomes a joyful experience rather than a mad dash from one task to the next.
An eye-opening analysis of today's hectic lifestyles coupled with valuable practical advice on how to make better use of each day.
Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot (Spenser) by Ace Atkins
Boston’s premier private eye signs on to recover the kidnapped son of one of Boston’s sports heroes.
Defensive lineman Kinjo Heywood is known for his crushing attacks on opposing quarterbacks. Now that a shadowy someone is following him around his hometown, his agent, Steven Rosen, and Patriots security chief Jeff Barnes are forced to play a different kind of defense. Brought in to find out who’s forcing Kinjo to keep looking over his shoulder, Spenser has barely gotten started when Kinjo’s second wife, Cristal, reports that his beloved son, Akira, 9, has been grabbed from her car on the way to school. Days pass with no word from the kidnappers, leaving Spenser and his trainee, Zebulon Sixkill, plenty of time to reopen the case of Cape Verde gangbanger Antonio Lima, shot two years ago in a Manhattan nightclub shortly after a scuffle with Kinjo over a waitress—a case Kinjo’s brother Ray paid Lima’s family handsomely to make go away. When a caller to a popular sports–talk radio show finally phones in a ransom demand for Akira, the $100,000 amount seems suspiciously low, and Spenser soon finds out why. His success puts him in tight with Kinjo but leaves him on the outs with the athlete's handlers and the cops. Then Kinjo takes to the airwaves himself to make a quixotic announcement that seems calculated to push the story, whose tension Atkins (Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland, 2013, etc.) has so far managed admirably, over a cliff. And it does, as the tale fizzles out in a shower of forced entries, meetings with conveniently connected mobsters, eleventh-hour twists and bang bang bang.
Two-thirds of a perfectly controlled kidnap tale, with Spenser close to his top form, crashes, burns and goes down without a trace in the end.