Sugar Rautbord The Chameleon

ISBN 13: 9780446608152

The Chameleon

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9780446608152: The Chameleon
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Claire Organ was born a Christmas baby right in the middle of better dresses in Marshall Fields Department Store, to Violet Organ in 1924. Her father has disappeared but a trio of "aunties" (her mother plus two fellow salesladies at the store) make up the most loving and attentive family a young girl could have.

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Review:

Literally born into the splendor and wealth of Marshall Field's when her mother gives birth in the fine dress section of the store, Claire Organ is fated to have a taste for the finer things in life. But raised in the Great Depression by her single mom and "aunties," she learns the virtues of self-reliance and hard work, as well as the details of refinement and style. When a handsome fighter pilot overlooks her shabby background and woos her, it looks as if Claire has found her ticket to the good life. Married and pregnant, she heads off to New York to wait for her husband's return.

But life as a secluded, pregnant socialite isn't all it's cracked up to be. Drawn to the glamour and idealism of the Roosevelt administration, Claire uses her charm and connections to secure a position as an aid to a senior White House official. The appeal of her new life grows even stronger as she develops an intense love for a forbidden man. Only a little murder, multiple marriages, political ambitions, and bankruptcy stand between Claire and her future, and like a true chameleon she continue to evolve and adapt, planning for the day she can show her true colors.

Sugar Rautbord's latest novel has all the ingredients of a tasty miniseries á lá Thornbirds; unrequited love, multiple marriages, misunderstood youth, some historical accuracy, and a supremely finessed rags-to-riches heroine. When the characters enjoy a passion "that travels between them, like an electrical current passing through wires that had suddenly been reconnected," readers are sure to bask a bit in the giddy effects of this full-force drama. If you can overlook the Forrest Gump-like parade of famous characters and a strangely passive love interest, The Chameleon makes a truly entertaining read.--Nancy R.E. O'Brien

From Kirkus Reviews:

Another fat letter stuffed with fashion tips and consumer- paradise cultural suggestions from Chicago socialite Rautbord, whose Sweet Revenge (1992) led us into her world of big spenders. Her newest is more serious, with vague echoes of the life of Clare Booth Luce. Rautbord here retails a Cinderella story of fatherless Claire Organ, the chameleon of the title, and her numerous wealthy princes whose gilded coaches never turn into pumpkins at midnight but only add to her personal wealth and power. Claire's abandoned mother, Violet Organ, a dreamy-eyed, shy saleswoman at Marshall Fields in Chicago in 1924, gives birth to Claire in the Fine Dress Department ``amid the pearl necklaces, silk lingerie, high-fashion shoes, and women's fancy custom apparel directly beneath Louis Comfort Tiffany's grand mosaic dome.'' Her arrival on Christmas Eve makes the Tribune's front page, and Claire becomes something of a ward of the store, spending her childhood compiling an encyclopedic knowledge of every top-quality brand name in each of its departments, including furniture. Violet becomes the store's top fashion expert for high-society weddings, an elevation that eventually leads to Claire's leap into Tuxedo Park high-society when she marries young William Henry Harrison V (``Harry''), a pilot who, after Pearl Harbor is bombed, is shipped to the South Pacific while Claire has his baby. When Harry's father becomes head of the War Production Board in Washington, Claire joins him as his assistant and shows her savvy for getting war matriel to the right sectors and, later, for helping him carry out the Marshall Plan. Successive lovers or husbands include her father-in-law, Harrison (who fathers her star-crossed second child), a nasty Italian shipping bigwig (who gets speargunned!), a Jewish movie producer, and a newspaper publisher. Celebrities from Claire's various eras help enliven an ever- smooth, sandalwood soaper with class stamped all over it. Quite dreamy, with mild dips into sexreal sugar all the way. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780446521871: The Chameleon

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ISBN 10:  0446521876 ISBN 13:  9780446521871
Publisher: Grand Central Pub, 1999
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