The Chaperone

Cover The Chaperone
maria says:
While this book's original allure was that it told the story of a young Louise Brooks, I really found the study of her chaperone Cora, who is the novel's protagonist, compelling. In an unusual marriage and harboring secrets that slowly unfold throughout the book, Cora finds herself to be the one transformed by her relationship with the young Miss Brooks. Set against the back drop of New York and Wichita in the teens and twenties, the novel is about gratitude and understanding: "She was grateful that life could be long."
htj says:
Not quite sure what I expected when I started this story of a 36-year-old Kansas woman (Cora Carlisle) who accompanied a glamorous 15-year-old to NYC for 5 weeks as chaperone. I knew it had good ratings or I wouldn't have put it on my TBR shelf, but I was so happily surprised by this multi-layered and "mesmerizing take on women in this pivotal era", i.e. the 1920s and onwards. The 15-year-old was Louise Brooks -- frankly I had no idea she was a real p
...erson who became "the silent-film icon of a generation". But the real star of this novel is Cora, whose character develops from traditional Midwestern matron to a relatively modern woman as she deals with her own backstory as well as such taboo subjects as homosexuality, adultery and child abuse. Reviews abound with phrases like "captivating and wise", "enthralling", "surprising and poignant", "an inventive and lovely Jazz Age story"... All I can say is "highly recommended."
reallygoodderp says:
I really want to be able to give a half star! This is totally a 3.5 star book...honestly maybe even 4. I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I liked reading this. It's a super interesting story and not what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be more about the young and upcoming starlet, but it's about the...wait for it...chaperone. Her life story is really interesting--she was left at an orphanage and adopted out on a train service that basically gave children away throughout the west, and then how she meets her husband and his deal as well. It's a great story!
Ryan says:
3.4 starsWomen's fiction, historical fiction (1920s and later), feminism, orphans, loosely biographical* Some M/M content but there is nothing lesbian hereI wish I would have read some reviews with spoilers before buying this. Even though it's called The Chaperone and we can easily assume it will be about the chaperone, the cover and blurb is still going to feel misleading to some readers who hope Louise Brooks is a central character throughout the story. She's not. This is primarily Cora Carlisle's story... a 36 yr old and highly conservative Midwestern housewife who volunteers to chaperone the rebellious and very modern 15 yr old Louise Brooks to New York City during the summer of 1922 so that she can attend a prestigious dance school. A few years later Louise would become a silent-film star sensation. Louise Brooks is an actual iconic film star/dancer and she actually did make a trip to NYC with an older chaperone in her teen years. But Cora is an imagined character.The trip these two make to NYC is only a part of the plot. Cora has her own reasons for wanting to visit NYC as it contains mysteries of her past. And much of her backstory is interspersed with the train ride there and the time they spend in New York. Louise's function in the story is really there as a catalyst to spur and inspire the uptight and overly moral chaperone into a new life direction.... one that brings this corset-wearing prude into the modern world on about 40 different levels lol. Yes, I would have liked more of the story to include Louise, but I liked that Cora represents the ordinary woman who is inspired to change. I also liked the juxtaposition of opposites that built the story: Kansas vs New York City, older vs younger, bygone era vs modern era, conservative vs progressive etc etc.... and the underlying warning that modernity is best handled with some discretion lest it bring about your downfall is an interesting one.There's a lot going down in this novel. And pretty much every possible historical issue makes an appearance and is contemplated by Cora as her enlightenment grows: flapper fashion, orphan trains, Ku Klux Klan, Prohibition, racism, contraception, suffrage, sexuality, marriage, the dust bowl etc etc... I was drawn into the novel over the first half and initially found the historical details interesting. But after a while I became painfully aware of the information dumps, scenes dragged on much too long, and I soon had the tedious experience of feeling I was reading for a survey of US History course. I really felt the novel should have ended when they left NYC. Part 3 would have been better condensed as a reasonably sized epilogue... instead, this author carried on forever about everyone's life and death for decades on end to the point that I wasn't really sure why or where she was going and I was bored silly. For me, it was just too much. Excessive extraneous detail I just didn't care about.In real life, Louise was known to cultivate lesbian and bi friends (and was experimental), so when I saw the LGBT shelving on this, I thought there would be some F/F material here. NOPE. Homosexuality is addressed in the novel, but it's not the orientation of either of these women and nothing about such friendships is ever addressed with Louise (when she's younger or older) that I can recall. But she's plenty wild with men, even as a teen.
The Chaperone
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User Reviews:

Guest 7 years ago

Loved this book. It was good from beginning to end.

Reader Jean 7 years ago

I loved this book. I looked forward to my opportunities when I could continue reading it.

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