Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tell a Tale: The Chaperone

“The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through it.”
Laura Moriarty, The Chaperone

Summary: (from
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'm not sure why so many people are disappointed that this book isn't about Louise Brooks. It doesn't profess to be. It's about her (fictional, I think) chaperone on her first foray to New York before she became famous, hence the title.

I do agree with others though, that the first two thirds of the book are excellent. It seems a tiny bit unrealistc that one woman could have touched so many history altering events, but the 1920's to the 1950's were life- altering times. The last third does rush and jumps huge expanses of time within a single paragraph. It almost felt like the last third of Cora's life was told simply to get us to the last paragraph of the book.

That being said, I enjoyed watching Cora's transformation from a sheltered, naive, and straightlaced young lady to a broad minded, confident woman who did whatever she needed to do to ensure happiness and peace within herself. Even though she had secrets and in the end lead a very unconventional life, I still admired her.

I also enjoyed the historical facts that were littered throughout the story. It's fascinating to see just how much society has changed. To think, a woman's hairstyle or peek of an ankle could determine which doors opened and which ones slammed in your face. It makes me grateful that I have the choices I have today

~Note: Not to be confused with the 2011 film The Chaperone which "starred" Triple H
and grossed a whopping $14,000 at the box office

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