Imagine volunteering to leave your quiet life as a housewife in Wichita to chaperone a young, talented youth to New York City for the summer. Here’s the kicker: you don’t know it at the time, but your young charge is The Next Big Thing, but has the attitude to match. That’s the fate awaiting Cora Carlisle, the chaperone to a young Louise Brooks in Laura Moriatrty’s The Chaperone, the latest BlogHer Book Club book.
Cora’s life in 1922 seems ordinary and simple from the outside: married to a prominent local lawyer, the mother to grown twin boys; a suffragette who drives and marched for the vote. But there’s more to Cora than meets the eye. Her desire to accompany the headstrong and somewhat arrogant teenaged Louise Brooks to New York has less to do with a summer away from the Wichita heat and more to do with self-discovery.
I love the picture that Moriarty created of life in the deep Midwest of Kansas and the Prohibition-era “skyscrapers” of New York City. Including a true historical figure like the silent-film start Louise was risky, but Moriarty made her believable and interesting, even if she was something of an overconfident snot at times. While I foresaw a few of the twists in Cora’s story, I still couldn’t put the book down. I loved watching her story unfold and see how she handled each twist handed to her.
While it was frustrating to read a few of her choices from a 2012 perspective, all of her choices felt true against the backdrop of 1922 America. If anything, it showed just how far we’ve come in the past 90 years, and how far we still have to go in some ways.
In a nutshell: I really enjoyed Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone, and if you have an interest in historical fiction, the silent film era, Louise Brooks, or starts before they were stars, you might enjoy it too.
If you want to read more about The Chaperone, check out the BlogHer Book Club site for more discussions about this book and others.
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.
Filed in: Books