Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: The Chaperone

Summary: A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both.

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. -- Riverhead

There is some serious buzz going on about the new novel THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty. It all began for me a few months ago when one of my "reading soul mates" told me that I had to read this book because she loved it. So, of course, I read it, and she was totally right -- I loved it. However, I didn't write my review right away because I wanted to wait until the book's pub date was closer. (There is a lesson somewhere for me here about waiting too long to write reviews!)

And then the past few weeks, THE CHAPERONE has been talked about everywhere from the blogosphere to Oprah magazine, to USA Today, to People Magazine to Entertainment Weekly. I'm sure the list goes on and on! But they are all saying the same time. THE CHAPERONE is a fantastic book and one of the hot picks for the summer, and I couldn't agree more. THE CHAPERONE is a very special novel and one that I am recommending to all of my friends.

THE CHAPERONE tells the story of a Cora, a woman who chaperones a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks to New York City in the summer of 1922. Louise is hoping to be discovered while Cora has her own personal agenda -- to try to resolve some issues about her past. The story takes place a few years before Ms. Brooks becomes a famous actress; however, she is already quite assertive and daring and most definitely a handful. Cora had little to no idea what she was getting into by agreeing to chaperone Louise, but the months they spend together in New York cause these women to forge a bond and change both of their lives forever.

I absolutely loved THE CHAPERONE and I was extremely impressed with what Ms. Moriarty accomplished with this novel. It is part historical fiction and part women's fiction, and it's just perfect for discussion. I found the story to be entertaining and the characters were fabulous and so well-developed, and the book really touched upon some serious (and universal) issues about women and overall human nature. I pretty much think everything about this book worked!

Probably what stood out the most to me in THE CHAPERONE were the characters of Cora and Louise. I thought they both were portrayed so realistically and I was captivated by their actions. At first, they seemed to be polar opposites; however, as the novel progressed, I was able to see that they had much more in common than I initially thought. I loved seeing how both of these women transformed throughout the story and I think many female readers will be able to relate to their feelings.

Another wonderful thing about THE CHAPERONE was Ms. Moriarty's writing. I absolutely adored how she told these women's stories, and I thought she did a great job with bringing 1920s New York City to life. Not only were her descriptions of the city and its attractions so vivid, but she also managed to capture the feel of the time period. I thought the merging of fact and fiction in this novel was superb, and it's apparent that Ms. Moriarty did a great deal of research while writing this story.

As I mentioned earlier, THE CHAPERONE covers so many thought-provoking issues, and as a result, it's an ideal pick for book clubs. There is a reading guide available that addresses many of these topics. Some of the things you might want to explore include sexuality, the role of women, friendships, family, secrets, scandals, and honesty. In addition, I think the characters of Cora and Louise are fascinating as is the time period in which the story took place.

As far as I'm concerned, THE CHAPERONE is a must-read this summer. It's perfect for fans of historical fiction as well as fans of women's literature; and I have little doubt that you'll agree!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I've read two of Moriarty's books and thought they were both great. I can't wait to read this one!

Marg said...

The buzz is working! I am definitely looking forward to reading this book as soon as I can!

Audra said...

I'm reading this one in a few weeks -- sooooooooooo excited for it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think this was on the list of audios that was offered to me this month. I need to check...sounds like I need to get my hands on it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I've been seeing lots of review for this; it sounds good!

Beth Hoffman said...

Wow, Julie, your review is terrific!

Karlie said...

Wow! This sounds like one that I must read this summer! Thanks for the great review.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Definitely a BUZZ book!