Young woman’s summer adventure sets stage for roaring 20s
Nov 1, 2012, Tennessean
Louise Brooks was one of the characters who made the 1920s roar. With her iconic black bob and flaming red lipstick, she starred in silent films and thrived on cocktails, cigarettes and men.
Laura Moriarty’s novel “The Chaperone” tells the parallel stories of two women, Brooks and Cora Carlisle, the upstanding Kansas City matron who served as her chaperone on a summer adventure in New York City.
The 15-year-old Brooks studied at the Denishawn School of Dance during the day and got in trouble at night.
While keeping up with her precocious and strong-willed charge, Carlisle seeks answers to her own mysterious past as an orphan abandoned to trains that went west, farming children out to dubious futures.
Not only does Carlisle struggle with her unknown identity, but she also suffers the confines of a sham marriage shrouded in deep, dark secrets. Carlisle’s summer with Brooks leads to her own personal awakening on many levels. Her life mirrors the progression of the 20th century and the emergence of women’s rights.
The historical sweep of this novel makes it ideal for book clubs and anyone eagerly anticipating the coming movie release of “The Great Gatsby,” set in the same era. Audiobook fans will enjoy the narration by Elizabeth McGovern.