Friday, September 2, 2016

The Chaperone

Step back to the glamour and fun of the early days of the flappers in The Chaperone~

Book Review
The Chaperone
Summary (via Goodreads): Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing 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, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.

For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers,  and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’s TheChaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.

Louise Brooks - The Quintessential Flapper Girl

Review (4/5 stars):  On Goodreads, quite a few of the reviews mentioned how disappointed they were that book isn't about Louise Brooks, however it doesn't profess to be. It's about her (fictional, I think) chaperone on her first foray to New York before she became famous, hence the title.

The first two thirds of the book are excellent. It seems a tiny bit unrealistic that one woman could have touched so many history altering events, but the 1920's to the 1950's were life altering times. The last third does rush and jumps huge expanses of time within a single paragraph. It almost felt like the last third of Cora's life was told simply to get us to the last paragraph of the book.

That being said, I enjoyed watching Cora's transformation from a sheltered, naive, and straight-laced young woman to a broad minded, confident woman who did whatever she needed to do to ensure happiness and peace within herself. Even though she had secrets and in the end lead a very unconventional life, I still admired her.

I also enjoyed the historical facts that were littered throughout the story. It's fascinating to see just how much society has changed. To think, a woman's hairstyle or peek of an ankle could determine which doors opened and which ones slammed in your face. It makes me grateful that I have the choices I have today~

If you enjoy this period of history you might want to check out last week's review of The Garden on Sunset that takes place in the same era.  Do you  have a favourite silent film star?  Leave a comment below~

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