Title: The Chaperone
Author: Laura Moriarty
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Source: TLC Book Tours
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: USA Today's #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer, The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and the summer that would change them both.
Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond--from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women--Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.
When I closed this book, I had tears in my eyes. And the only thought I had was this book is beautiful.
I’m surprised that I loved this book. I’ve been in a huge reading slump lately, and I was certain that historical fiction was not the way to go to get me out of it.
I was wrong.
The Chaperone is a stunning novel. It tackles everything from adoption to Prohibition to homosexuality to contraception. All set in the 1920’s.
It was a little slow to start, but that’s true of so many wonderful novels. But once it was hinted at that Cora had a secret reason for going to NYC, I was hooked.
The story often flash backed to Cora’s childhood, but it was splendidly done. It was never confusing or out of place. This truly was Cora’s story – by the end of the book, we have seen her entire life spanned from birth until death. And what an extraordinary woman she was. While she stood for her convictions, she was never so close-minded that she couldn’t change when necessary. Cora was the kind of woman that I want to be.
Louise Brooks did play a large part in the book, but this was not her story. In fact, I had to Google her to figure out exactly who she was. I did recognize her photos, if not her name.
The only thing I wish had been differently was how quickly her later years were handled. I understand that the meat of the story was that journey to NYC with Louise, but I would have liked more time with who she became.