Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big 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 is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she's in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever.
For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn't what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora's eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
The Chaperone offers an imaginative take on women's lives. Though some readers may question the main characters' interpretation of what a newly liberated, enlightened life entails, this is a worthy portrait of loyalty in friendship, courage in the face of disappointment, and belief in remaking the self. (Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
The novel, which in its final stretch races to 1982, attempts to portray Cora as a heroine buffeted by the bigotry and priggishness of the Jazz Age, but glosses over events and neglects the inner lives of many of its characters.
Moriarty is a wonderful storyteller; it's hard to put this engaging novel down. Fans of the Jazz Age and sweeping historical fiction will likely feel the same way.
Booklist - Margaret Flanagan
[T]he always engrossing Moriarty has combined real-life and fictional characters to great effect as both Cora and Louise end up defying the conventional expectations of the era with mixed results.
Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife and Adam & Eve
What a charming, mesmerizing, transporting novel! The characters are so fully realized that I felt I was right there alongside them. A beautiful clarity marks both the style and structure of The Chaperone.
Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
It's impossible not to be completely drawn in by The Chaperone. Laura Moriarty has delivered the richest and realest possible heroine in Cora Carlisle, a Wichita housewife who has her mind and heart blown wide open, and steps - with uncommon courage - into the fullness of her life. What a beautiful book. I loved every page.
Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers The Chaperone is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting you to another time and place, but even more importantly delivering a poignant story about people so real, you'll miss and remember them long after you close the book.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Sandra Walters Liked it quite a bit I heard part of 'The Chaperone" on Sirius book radio and that made me want to read the entire story. I'm a fan of "old Hollywood" stories, and I enjoyed this book a lot. The author writes well and her characters and the situations... Read More
Rated of 5
by Louise J Fantastic Read! The Chaperone is a wonderful novel of self-courage that is filled with insight yet gracefully poignant. I loved this book and might just read it again!
Louise Brooks (1906-1985), born Mary Louise Brooks, was a dancer, Ziegfeld girl, silent film actress, memoirist (Lulu in Hollywood), and in her later years, an icon rediscovered and beloved by French film historians such as Henri Langois, who remarked, "There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!" She was best known for her roles in Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both 1929 German films directed by G.W. Pabst.
In Pandora's Box, Brooks is cast as Lulu, a modern woman whose sexualized behavior turns destructive, and who eventually meets Jack the Ripper. The racy plot inspired by playwright Frank Wedekind's work, Die Büchse der Pandora, was at the time considered melodramatic, and Brooks's performance was not immediately recognized as noteworthy. It was not until decades later that Pandora's Box would be regarded...
British Parliament asks Amazon to clarify why it pays $9 million in income tax on $23 billion of UK sales.(May 20 2013) Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate...