Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Books Read: Laura Moriarty - The Chaperone

Source - Received from publisher to review

On a summer's day in 1922 Cora Carlisle boards a train from Wichita, Kansas, to New York City, leaving behind a marriage that's not as perfect as it seems and a past that she buried long ago. She is charged with the care of a stunning young girl with a jet-black fringe and eyes wild and wise beyond her fifteen years. This girl is hungry for stardom and Cora for something she doesn't yet know. Cora will be many things in her lifetime - an orphan, a mother, a wife, a mistress - but in New York she is a chaperone and her life is about to change.

It is here under the bright lights of Broadway, in a time when prohibition reigns and speakeasies with their forbidden whispers behind closed doors thrive, that Cora finds what she has been searching for. It is here, in a time when illicit thrills and daring glamour sizzle beneath the laws of propriety that her life truly begins. It is here that Cora and her charge, Louise Brooks, take their first steps towards their dreams...

I'd like to thank Penguin for sending me a proof copy of this book to review as this is another one that I probably wouldn't have chosen to read.

The book is set in the 1920's and tells the story of a talented young dancer, Louise Brooks, who longs to escape the confines of small-town Wichita, Kansas, and move to the bright lights of New York city.

When married Cora Carlisle hears that Louise's parents are looking for someone to accompany her to an audition for a dance school in New York she volunteers to be her chaperone.  At first it's unclear why Cora would be so keen to take on the responsibility for Louise but we soon get to discover more about Cora's history and her own reasons for wanting to go to New York.

But this is not going to be such an easy task for Cora as Louise is a rebellious young girl who'll do anything to gain attention to herself including chatting to unsuitable men.  Cora certainly has her hands full keeping Louise out of trouble whilst trying to deal with her own discoveries about her past.

Although this book is a work of fiction, the character Louise Brooks is based on the real-life silent movies actress.  It was an intriguing idea to use someone real as the central character for the book rather than develop a character but as I had no idea who Louise Brooks was it didn't affect the storyline for me but might to others who know who she was.

The book is very well written and I enjoyed reading the snippits of history and the etiquette of the times so I actually learnt a thing or two at the same time as this is not an era I knew a lot about.  Once I got into the story I did not want to put it down.

1 comment:

  1. This story is very rich with history. I loved the descriptions of the changing 20's fashion, New York City, theater and the orphanage that Cora lived at as well as the experience of the orphan trains. The reader also get to experience a little of the depression of the 30's, World War II, and beyond. We see the characters experiencing the changes and growing with them as well. The characters in this book are well written and easy to relate to, their reactions and speech seemed very genuine for the time period this story is set in. I think one of my favorite parts are the sections when Cora is remembering her past, her anxiety on the orphan train, hoping not to be chosen so she can go back to something she at least knows. I loved the Kauffman's, the couple who chose to adopt her and how they welcomed her into their home and treated her like family. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I had a hard time putting it down.