The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty – Book Review

Cora Carlisle is thirty-six in 1922, the summer that she chaperones a teenaged Louise Brooks throughout the duration of a prestigious summer dance program in New York, in Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone. When we first meet Cora she is married to a wealthy, handsome lawyer, and preparing to send their twin boys off to college. Cora is a bit at loose ends with her boys off working a farm for the summer, but she is surprised when Myra Brooks immediately accepts her offer to care for her daughter. Cora informs her husband of her stay in New York with  Louise in no uncertain terms, and it is then that it becomes apparent that the marriage is strained, that Cora has secrets, and isn’t the meek little housewife she seems at first to be. Cora is searching for something that even she can’t define. This summer is her opportunity to investigate what she’s ignored for many years.

I have to admit I didn’t have much desire to read this novel. Not knowing anything about Louise Brooks, few things appealed to me less than reading about her and her summer chaperone. My book club is the reason I picked this up, from the very first pages, I was absorbed with The Chaperone and Cora. Cora’s tale of discovery is both suspenseful and engaging, and though I was equal parts frustrated with her troubled marriage, timidity in disciplining Louise and naivete, I also loved being enmeshed in her world and watching her nascent self-awareness and insight and eventual self-actualization. Moriarty’s writing is charming and atmospheric, and I loved that the turns in Cora’s life were always surprising and a natural next step in her evolution. The Chaperone is compulsively readable. It’s hard to put down once you’ve started it, so make sure you have some time! Highly recommended.

Read More Reviews At: Amused By BooksThe Picky GirlMeaghan Walsh Gerard

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    1. I know! I think that had me skeptical too, at first – that everyone loved it so, so much.. I think I have seen one review that was less than gushing, and the main issue there was that Louise herself really didn’t need to be a part of the story.And that’s probably right, but I didn’t find that part to be forced.

  1. I agree I initially didn’t have an interest in the book, but once I started it, I was drawn in. Love the time period, and how my initial impression of Cora completely changed over time. I was frustrated with her marriage too, but then by the end I felt an admiration for the way everything turned out. The real cherry on top of this one was the narration for the audio. Elizabeth McGovern is my new favorite voice.

  2. I was interested in the time period but didn’t expect to love the overall story as much as I did. This is one of the best audiobooks ever.

  3. I thought the book was going to be about Louise. I didn’t know much about her but I like stories set in 1920s. I was a bit surprised when I started listening and instead found the story about Cora. It’s one of my favorites this year.