Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Chaperone: Book Review





The Chaperone
By Laura Moriarty



I enjoyed reading The Chaperone. First, it is historical fiction, it takes place in the 1920's. It is based loosely on the silent film actress, Louise Brooks. It takes place in two locations in Wichita, Kansas, and New York City. 

This sets up the exciting novel of Laura Moriarty.

In Wichita Kansas, Cora is a middle age house wife, with two twin boys ready to go off to college.  The empty nest syndrome is about to shake things up a bit for Cora. But Cora has other reasons for accompanying Louise. 

Cora is asked to accompany Louise, 15 years old to New York City to try out for a dance troupe.  Louise is a conservative housewife, and she is uptight, and has very strict rules for Louise when they arrive in New York. 

During their time in New York City, Louise is at the dance studio, Cora is spreading her wings in New York. Many years ago, Cora was given up for adoption and put on a Orphan Train headed for Wichita. She is hoping to find her birth mother, and reconnect with her in New York.

During their five weeks together. They both, Louise and Cora learn much about each other.  Louise has hidden many facts about herself from her parents. What seems to be, is not always the case.   Cora learns to loosen about a bit, after Chaperoning Ms. Brooks. 

From there we learn, about what happened after to Cora and Louise. Unfortunately Louise went through many husbands, and became a alcoholic, later on she went abroad and lived in Paris. She led a unhappy life, and became reclusive.  

Where Cora, became a social activist and opened a home for unwed mother's. 

My Review: The Chaperone was not what I was expecting.  I had expected a stint of their experience in New York City.

 Instead it was the life span of Cora and her life changing from a strict housewife to a modern woman from the 1920's to 1980's. 

I liked the ideas of contrast of the two characters, one modern, Louise to strict Cora. The contrast of Witchita Kansas to New York City.  

At times it seemed a bit preachy, because the author had so many social issues that were brought up in the story, adoption, gay issues, prohibition, black-white relationships, and there wasn't anything resolved.  I realized later, that Ms. Moriarty was a social worker, this explains the social issues that the book touched on. 

There were two things that bothered me about the book. There was so many social issues, they seemed like that they were thrown in the mix. But, what was the point? not sure myself.  The story was not just 5 weeks Cora, and Louise were in New York. But, it was the entire life of Cora. What happened to her after.  There were parts of the novel that seemed to drag for me. 

I loved the contrasts of the characters. The changing roles of women during the 20's. What the war did to change people, and society, and become modern to the end of the story of 1980's.  I thought it was interesting how people ideas changed about things during that span of time. 

When I read a novel, I like to learn new things. I never heard of Louise Brooks. Ms. Brooks was a silent film actress. She was noticed by Charlie Chaplin.  She is known for the famous black bob, as you may notice below in the picture. 





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