Kate (VerbVixen)'s Reviews > The Chaperone

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
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May 18, 2012

it was amazing

"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."

A historical fiction about my favorite city, set in the roaring 20's, with an irreverant female character? IN.

In all seriousness though it takes a higher level of excellence in an adult fiction to win my respect. I'm not quite sure why that is, perhaps because I've spent so much of my life reading classics. The Chaperone met my high standards ensuring its place on my shelf as a book that I will go back to repeatedly. It is impossible of course to set a book in 1920's NY and not be compared to Gatsby. And there was something Gatsby-esque about The Chaperone---the question of morality, the midwest to NYC transplant, and oddly enough, the weather during certain scenes reminded me of Gatsby as well. That being said The Chaperone goes on to cover such a breadth of history from minute details to unveiling a whole world I didn't know existed (spoiler: orphan trains). After reading, I felt like I actually understood life in 1922 apart from the cliche flapper girls, rum runners, and speakeasys we're all familiar with. Cora is such an empathetic character and her transformation and growth may be the most convincing I've read to date. Louise Brooks is both riveting and infuriating but delightfully realistic for a 15 year-old girl. There is a plot twist somewhere in the middle of the book that blindsided me and I loved that! I also loved these little gem sentences I found throughout the book that so beautifully got to the heart of a thought (some reminded me Fitzgerald and others of Steinbeck):

"...she was a grown woman, a modern woman, smart and fearless of judgment, a lovely sparkle on the blade of her generation as it slashed at the old conventions."

"This life is mine because of good luck. And because I reached out and took it."

"The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through."

My only real critique is the end---as we follow Cora through the dust bowl, Depression and World War II into the 1960s, I felt rushed which was so different from the pace of the rest of the book. I may be alone in this but I'd rather not know what happened to Cora et al. than to have so much of her history packed into so few pages. That being said, this book was a delight to read and one that I will be recommending throughout the summer and fall to all who have ears to listen.

Overall: A
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