The Chaperone

This is a wonderful book… no, I mean a fantastic book! The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty is historical fiction set in the 1920s. It is inspired by the life of silent film star Louise Brooks. Fifteen year old Louise leaves Wichita in 1922 for a summer in New York City to become part of the Denishawn school of dance. As society dictated at that time it was unthinkable for her parents to allow young Louise to head to New York City on her own, so they hire Cora Carlisle, the middle-aged wife of a prominent Wichita lawyer, and mother of two grown sons, to accompany Louise to the Big Apple. No one except Cora’s husband knows that Cora has reasons of her own to head to New York. Everyone assumes her mission is just to make sure that Louise doesn’t get herself into too much mischief, and to act like a respectible young lady in the 20s should act. But Louise has way too much spunk and nerve and she has no intention of following the rules of behaviour set out by not only her parents and Cora, but the dance troup as well. To add to this, she is drop dead gorgeous and heads turn everywhere she goes, making Cora’s job way more difficult that she originally thought. So while Louise is off at dance class hoping to make the cut to become part of the permanent troup of dancers by summer’s end, Cora goes on a mission of her own to discover a part of her past that has remained a secret all these years. It is a fascinating story, full of historical bits about life during that era, how attitudes and morals change over the course of decades, and Moriarty paints a wonderful picture of New York City, the gritty as well as the glamourous. Honestly, I didn’t want the book to end, I liked it that much. It’s a real winner. It’s definitely destined for the Top 10 list. I had never heard of Laura Moriarty previous to reading this book, now I definitely intend to check out the other three she’s written.

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