Review: The Chaperone

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Riverhead Books a member of Penquin Group (USA) Inc., New York 2012

Book Description (from

Release date: June 5, 2012The New York Times bestseller and the USA Today #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer, The Chaperone is 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 silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing 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, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.

For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.

My Review – 5 Stars

The first line of this story is:

The first time Cora heard the name Louise Brooks, she was parked outside the Wichita Library in a Model-T Ford, waiting for the rain to stop.”

Cora is with her friend Viola.

“Viola was a decade older than Cora, her hair already gray at the temples, and she spoke with the authority of her added years.”

The Chaperone is an enjoyable, thought provoking story.  At first, it is about generational differences and then becomes much, much more as viewpoints of the times and how they play out in the character’s lives become more real.

The author, Laura Moriarty, illustrates how individual lives, hearts and tears, slowly change and shape, attitudes, conventional wisdom and public policy.

I enjoyed obtaining additional insight into the decades before I was born and gained a greater appreciation for those times.

I  wanted to find out a little more about this story, especially what parts where based on facts, and found this article/interview by Thomas Gladysz from helpful:

I also searched for a photo of Louise Brooks and found this helpful link from bio.the true story:

This is an amazon link to Louise Brooks’ autobiography: Lulu In Hollywood: Expanded Edition.  I hope you get a chance to read The Chaperone and enjoy it as much as I did.

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