Cover image for The chameleon
The chameleon
Rautbord, Sugar.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
516 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Beginning with her birth in the better dresses department of the Marshall Fields store, "The Chameleon" tells the enchanting tale of a bold Chicago Cinderella who constantly reinvents herself.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Unbelievable as it was for Claire Organ to first enter high society in 1941 at the age of 18 through marriage to a descendant of two former presidents, it was just the beginning of a life of unbelievable events that would take her both to the highest heights, surrounded by wealth and power, and to the lowest lows with barely a penny to her name--all the while clinging to the desperate hope of one day being with her one true, but forbidden, love. Claire's life story is so very unbelievable that it serves merely as a showcase for descriptions of the trappings and lifestyles of the very rich and very famous: furniture, food, jewels, gowns, parties, travel, high-stakes deals. As she moves through the higher echelons of society and politics in both the U.S. and Europe, the fictitious Claire is constantly rubbing shoulders with actual famous figures from the early thirties through the mid-seventies. Incidentally, Rautbord is a member of Chicago's Social Register and author of Sweet Revenge (1992) --Grace Fill

Publisher's Weekly Review

Full of improbabilities, clich‚s, celebrity names and fancy labels, Rautbord's (Sweet Revenge; Girl's in High Places) modern-day Cinderella story entertains despite the plot machinations and compulsive name-dropping. Or name-changing: the heroine starts off as Claire Organ and swiftly accumulates surnames and the concomitant husbands, new identities and social positions. For Claire Organ Harrison Duccio Lefkowitz Grant, besides being gorgeous, is gifted with a remarkable ability to reinvent herself time and time again, ostensibly as a matter of survival and to protect her children. But Claire's ascent into fabulousness was foreshadowed early in life. Born to an abandoned shopgirl in Chicago's Marshall Fields Department Store on December 23, 1923, Claire is raised by a triumvirate of sales ladies for the upscale store. Between the calligraphy and cooking classes, exposure to antiques and quality merchandise, and her "auntie's" guidance, Claire learns more than girls enrolled at the snootiest schools. Her chameleon-like ability to adapt colludes with her ambition as she becomes, successively, a WASP's wife, a Washington aide during WWII, an international hostess, a Hollywood player, a member of Congress and, ultimately, an ambassador. (The parallels to Pamela Harriman's life are titillating There's plenty of melodrama, romance and heartache in Claire's tale. While readers will enjoy her adventures and admire her spunk, however, they may also wonder why this capable, clever and charming heroine never manages to outgrow her longing for a man to rescue her, and to provide her with social and financial opportunities, an identity and a future. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Claire Organ was literally born and raised in the vast Chicago department store Marshall Field's. Thanks to her four wealthy husbands, her life is an unlikely but wild ride from FDR's White House to glamorous postwar Italy to Hollywood and finally to the U.S. Congress. The book is full of vicarious luxury, haute couture, exotic locales, and historical cameos by the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Lana Turner, and Jackie Onassis. The result is entertaining reading when one is able to overlook the occasionally ludicrous plot, the incongruous behavior of the heroine, and the book's odd message about a woman rising to international power largely as a result of the influences of the various men in her life, most of whom have treated her poorly. Rautbord (Sweet Revenge, LJ 7/92) was recently named one of Vanity Fair's 200 most influential women for her high-society benefit work. Her latest is a book to bring to the beach.ÄLisa Bier, Univ. of Texas at Austin (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.