The Chaperone: History, Fiction and Louise Brooks
By Karen Ballum on July 11, 2012
BlogHer Original Post
When you step into Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone you are stepping into another world. You will find yourself plunged into 1920s America, where bobbed hair is all the rage, Prohibition is in effect and many things are not quite what they seem. You will met a small town girl and see her rise to fame, and perhaps more surprisingly, you will meet a housewife who completely changes her own future.
Moriarty weaves fact and fiction together in such a way that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins Louise Brooks, an icon of the 1920s, was a show girl, a silent film actress and one of the women who popularized bobbed hair. All icons have to get their start somewhere, and for Louise, that start was in Kansas. She's granted the opportunity to go to New York City to audition for the Denishawn dance company, but there's just one catch -- she needs to bring a chaperone. Word quickly spreads through the town before reaching Cora Carlisle, who much to the surprise of everyone, jumps at the chance to accompany a girl she's never met to the big city.
At first glance, Cora hardly seems like the kind of woman who would want to spend a month in New York City chaperoning a young active girl like Louise. Cora's two sons are just about to enter college. She's married to a prominent local lawyer and very much in favor of Prohibition. She's a rather upstanding and moral character, and while these are all excellent qualifications for a chaperone, Cora is hardly prepared for how to deal with someone like Louise. As much as Cora is tied to society's standards for how women should behave, Louise rebels against them.
Yet, appearances can be deceiving. While much about Louise and the roaring '20s shocks Cora, she's got a few secrets herself. She has a very personal reason for wanting to visit New York City. It also seems that her perfect marriage is perhaps not quite so perfect after all. More happens in that summer month in New York City than Cora or Louise could ever imagine, and it changes both of their lives forever.
The Chaperone is a book that slowly draws you in but once it starts to reveal its secrets, you won't want to put it down.
We'll be discussing The Chaperone or the next month as we read it together. So grab a copy and join us as we discuss chapters 1-8 starting on July 19, chapters 9-16 starting July 26 and chapters 17-21 staring on August 1 in BlogHer Book Club. Come join the conversation!
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