The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty is a book whose main character, Cora Carlisle, is a chaperone to 15-year old Louise Brooks, a young woman who will be studying modern dance in 1920s New York City.
Louise is a handful, in more ways than one, and involves herself in confrontations and situations that keep Cora wrestling, not only with Louise, but with her own conscious, leaving her little time to breathe. She was hoping to be able to do some long-wanted research while in New York City.
Cora is married with grown children, and has taken the opportunity to chaperone Louise in order to answer some long-held questions of her past. This reader watched Cora grow throughout the novel, not only emotionally, but also grow and adjust to the ever-changing world of the time period. Her daily visions of poverty and the roles of women were penned with illuminating scenes. Yet, within Cora’s growth, time seemed to stand still at times, due to the often drawn out paragraphs.
I thought that Moriarty did an excellent job of writing the story line. Her reflections of history were spot on, and her word images were crisp and concise. Her interpretations of the mores, manners, and social ideals that were predominate in 1920s Kansas were accurate, as well as the accuracy of New York City’s ethnic diversity and social standards. Yet, I felt the predictability of the story, especially in the last half of The Chaperone. That predictability tended to bore me a bit, and I felt the author was trying to rush things in order to get to the end result.
Overall, The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty, is a novel that displays the time period well regarding the historical factors within the pages. The The life of Louise Brooks (who did go on to become a silent screen star), is actually second place to Cora’s story, in my opinion. That is not to say that it diminishes the story, after all, the title reflects the content. The story is more about Cora and her adjustment and visions of life, visions that had been locked up until she went to New York City, where her eyes were opened. On a scale of one to five, I would rate this a three. I liked it, but, overall, it was not the story I thought it would be.