About the book: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 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.
I don't read a lot of adult fiction, but I found The Chaperone to be an enjoyable story with a great time period and characters. We got to see the 1920s as they were developing--with turmoil and questions and secret societies. As someone who really enjoys the time period, The Chaperone presents and builds a great glimpse into the time period. Every detail felt perfect and helped to build a picture in my head.
The book takes the real story of actress Louise Brooks--but before she was an actress. Here, Louise Brooks is a fifteen year old girl about to start her journey to eventual stardom in the big city. Already Louise is outspoken, changed by the culture with short hair and short dresses. So when Cora is chosen to escort the girl to the city, both characters are thrown in the new life around them and the budding society that's overtaking the women of the 1920s. But each girl has another reason for going to New York.
It's because of these girls that the story comes to life. Not only was the insight into Louise Brooks' lively and inventive, she was also very connectable as a lost and lonely girl. (So much like the celebrities we sometimes see today.) But even more, Louise was challenging to Cora.
And, although the story seems to be about the young Louise, it's really Cora's story. For it's Cora who has a history and a secret. And Cora who never really got to be the child. She's strong and insightful, yet very much lost in her own way and even more, searching for answers. Cora goes against the grain of society; she wants to be something more than she is allowed or supposed to be. I love that in a story. The characters really jump off the pages and find a special spot in your heart. The journey we see these characters go on together--and separately--really make the story come alive.
I think anyone who likes historical fiction or stories filled with well-developed characters and a time period will enjoy The Chaperone. I don't think this novel should be classified by adult or young adult--for that's one that every woman searching for something else, whether in the past, present or future. I think it's something everyone can relate to.
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Published by Riverhead Books, ISBN 978-1594487019
Hardcover, 384 pages
Publication date: June 5, 2012
If you want to check out more of the stops on the tour, click here.