This book ended up being a pleasant surprise for me. I expected it to be a well written but predictable read. However, The Chaperone featured some unexpected twists and turns.
Historically, the novel concerns the 1920s actress Louise Brooks and her trip to New York City in the summer of 1922. However, the novel revolves primarily around Cora Carlisle, who accompanies Brooks to New York City. Although this book is considered historical fiction (it seamlessly includes details of everyday life for a woman in this time period), I eventually got swept up with Cora’s story (which does feature some historical fact but does not actually represent Alice Mills, the woman who did accompany Louise Brooks in 1922).
Filled with so much unhappiness, Cora returns to New York to learn more about her past. The answers she finds lead her to radically reconsider her life choices. The outcome of her actions ends up surprising herself (as well as the reader!). At the start of the novel, Cora and Louise could not be more different. This formula has been done before, but Laura Moriarty diverges from the template. Although they do affect each other, the book is more discreet with their relationship.
The last part of this novel was perhaps a little too far-fetched for me. However, I was able to suspend disbelief and just “go with it” while I was reading. In the end, I found The Chaperone to be a beautiful book. Especially in reference to Cora’s rare ability to see herself and her life for what it really is – and for her strength and courage to actively change in the pursuit of her own happiness.
Title: The Chaperone
Author: Laura Moriarty
Publisher, year: Riverhead Books, 2013
Chic rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2 ☆