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The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

The Chaperone (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Laura Moriarty

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1,2411226,397 (3.93)76
Title:The Chaperone
Authors:Laura Moriarty
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:family, relationships, lgbt, New England, usa, 1920s, orphans, New York, adoption, historical fiction

Work details

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 128 (next | show all)
This story takes place over a period of time starting in the early 1920's. The main character, Cora, is a 36 year old wife and mother of twins who are college age. She lives in Wichita, with her husband, Allen, who is a wealthy lawyer. The story contrasts the cultural changes taking place across the nation, with the strict,"moral" judgemental mindset of the times. Hemlines were rising, corsets were becoming passe, and women were cutting their hair and socializing with young men without an adult near by. Cora goes on a personal adventure when she accepts a requests from the mother of a beautiful young 17 year old woman, Louise, who has been chosen for tryouts to a prestigious dance school in New York City. Cora decided to take the job but she will need to be gone for over a month and she had never been so far from home. Throughout the story, lies and secrets seem to be part of everyone's lives, covered over with a blanket of proper etiquette and social rules. There are several parallel plot lines that are all intriguing making the reader wanting to find out the conclusion to all of them. The end of the story starts to drag and I think it should have stopped sooner. This is a story that stresses the importance of true relationships and pokes the reader into valuing people in our lives and not to judgeing anyone by appearances. ( )
  gaillamontagne | Jan 6, 2017 |
This book is perfect for summer -- light but not too lightweight -- an ideal beach read. I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it, although Cora was Mary-Sued a bit toward the end. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
I hadn't realised that Louise Brooks was a real person until I had finished the book - makes this novel all the more remarkable - some excellent characters (Louise, Myra) though the narrator has lots of hangups and a complicated life story; left at a children's home as a baby, adopted to a couple in a conservative rural town, marrying a homosexual, coping with wearing corsets, meeting her birth mother during the chaparone trip to take Louise to dance school to begin her career, finding a lover who then lives in her home being passed off as a long lost brother etc ( )
  siri51 | Nov 6, 2016 |
The Chaperone – Laura Moriarty

5 stars

The story begins in 1922 as Cora Kaufman Carlisle and her friend go about their common routine of socially acceptable charity work in Wichita, Kansas. Their conversation takes in the political and social climate of the day along with the mild gossip common to well-to-do women. The scene is set. We know who Cora Carlisle is…. on the outside. The question is, why would she choose to leave her successful, well-known, lawyer husband to become chaperone to the 15-year-old daughter of a local social climber? Why is a trip to New York City so important to her? Why would her conventional husband allow her to go?

There is more to Cora Carlisle’s story than appears on the surface. This is a rich and layered story. Cora’s history and her character are revealed gradually in a seamless blending of past and present. In some ways this is a coming of age story, not for the adolescent Louise Brooks, but for Cora, the middle-aged mother of grown twin boys. The Louise Brooks story is woven around Cora’s as a contrast and as an historical touchstone. Cora is a person that I grew to like and admire more and more as the story progressed.

This book had a great deal to say to me. It approached many issues which are relevant in this age of face book and reality television. There’s a clear message. Louise Brooks became a scandalous public figure with every aspect of her self-destructing private life in view. Cora remained quietly private, with a socially acceptable public face. She lived her unconventional life without undo collateral damage. I’d like to shake her hand.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
I found this story of Cora, and her chaperoning of a young Louise Brooks (a future silent film star) to New York in 1922 impossible to put down. The author did an impressive job of capturing the lives of women in a time of great social upheaval in a very realistic way. So often in historical fiction the characters seem like modern women dumped in a historical setting and act in a way that makes fun or puts down the standards of the times.

My only criticism of the book is that it went on too long. I enjoyed following Cora throughout her life, but think the time after the 1920s could have been summarized in one chapter. ( )
  Electablue | Apr 20, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laura Moriartyprimary authorall editionscalculated
McGovern, ElizabethNarratormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When a lovely woman stoops to folly, she can always find someone to stoop with her but not always someone to lift her up again to the level where she belongs. - "Mr. Grundy", For Atlantic Monthly 1920

It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy-it increased her value in his eyes. - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925

There is not Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks! - Henri Langlois, 1955
First words
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.
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Book description
Only a few years before becoming a famous actress, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Witchita to make it big in NY. 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 store for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob and bangs, is known for her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spent together will change their lives forever. For Cora, NY holds the promise of self-discovery, and even as she does her best to watch Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. 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. (ARC)
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"A novel about the friendship between an adolescent, pre-movie-star Louise Brooks, and the 36-year-old woman who chaperones her to New York City for a summer, in 1922, and how it changes both their lives"--

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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