One of the best audio books I've heard in a long, long while. The story line is great, and the narrator is very good. This is more a story about Cora than about Louise, and as we go through life with Cora, we also catch a glimpse of some of the major historical events of the 20th century. I would definitely recommend this book!
The first half of the story was excellent. The author painted a word picture of life in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. I felt instant sympathy for the protagonist and for her young charge who was smart, beautiful, damaged and completely undisciplined. For movie buffs, even this fictional glimpse of a reigning beauty queen is a treat. My admiration for Cora was based as much on her ability to learn and change as well as her pragmatic approach to life. I might add here that the narrator helped me to know both characters. Elizabeth McGovern knows her craft.
The second half of the book was a complete disappointment. I felt the end of the story was contrived and not satisfactory at all. Actually I half listened until the end. I wished for better for the plucky woman who headed off to find her roots. Even as a fictional character she deserved a more honest life.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
I would not listen a second time though I enjoyed it the first time around.
I think that Cora's loosening up was my favourite moment… as she lost her prissiness and got more real. Of course, this was a function largely of the times in which she found herself… I was happy when she lost the corset!
I think that Cora's meeting with Mrs. O'Dell was particularly moving… She had waited so long for it and it turned out to be a dead end. This is not to say that she did not benefit from the end result of the meeting… I believe it gave her permission to be herself, a much looser, more "real" version of herself. It also opened her eyes to the reality of giving a child up for adoption.
The story was very engaging. I enjoyed following Cora through her life's story and watching her triumph in the end over all the adversity she had faced. Bravo!
So...you're telling me I can pay people to read books to me whilst I do other things?
Full Disclosure: This is my time-machine favorite historical period and place. (You know the question: If you had a time machine, where/when would you go back?)
My answer: New York City, the beginning of the 20th century...are you kidding me?
Laura Moriarty takes us there from the point of view of a midwesterner, weaving real-life characters (and their wonderfully accessible google images) into the story.
Elizabeth McGovern's narration initially and inevitably evokes her character in Downton Abbey, but Cora Carlisle of Wichita, Kansas is clearly different from ex-pat Cora Crowley. (I felt like McGovern appropriately flattened out her accent, but according to Kansas reviewers maybe too much? Either way, her narration is top-notch. Which is pretty much always the case when seasoned actors read books.)
History buffs who love this era will love this book; not sure who else might be interested--maybe early film buffs?
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
I LOVED this book! I LOVED the narrator (although her diction coach needs to refine the differences between accents from Kansas and those from Minnesota)! It is a wonderful story about self-discovery, love (in many forms) and life as it was in the early 1900's. The author's writing is poetic and engaging, offering numerous unexpected twists and turns that keep us listeners up late at night.
This book is very much worth your time and credit!
I admit a bias because my grandmother was a contemporary of Louise. It was easy for me to picture my grandmother sitting next to Cora at the picture show. Cora reminded me so much of the practical perseverence that is common amongst my Kansas female relatives. I loved the dialogue, though there was something not quite right about the accent as read by Ms. McGovern. It is more than forgiven. This book was a delightful surprise. It reminds us that the circumstances our families must live with are not new, but thankfully just a little more acceptable. I certainly hope there is more to come. Wichita during the war years had the Boeing factory full of Rivet Annie's. Surely there is a story there!
A little like Water for Elephants. Life in show biz is hard on the soul.
I loved the scene in Grand Central Station with Cora and her mother. It was so realistic.
I have a 3 hour commute to work every day so I listen to audiobooks to help with my drive. It's added some happiness to my day (if it's a good book)!
I loved Cora's story. She was an example of how women have changed in America, for the better.
It really spoke to me when she was at the air conditioned luncheon and then realized the woman was raising money to oppose birth control. Cora was such a lady and I loved how she left, dropping quarters into the jar for the poor.
Her voice is just magical to me.
Yes it was.
Suzanne, avid reader and listener who loves a broad range of genres but, ecpecially authors,T.C. Boyle, Jodi Picoult, Barbara Kingsolver, Lionel Shriver, Sue Miller, Larry McMurty, Bryce Courteran, Lisa Gardner, Brian Haig, Richard North Patterson, Nelson Demille, Robert Tannenbaum, Sara Gruen, Kate Norton, Steig Larsen, Tana French and Gillian Flynn!! Still many more and the number of authors I enjoy continues to grow.
Compelling, Intriguing, and Poignant
I was happy and surprised to see the " chaperone " come to life and find love.
Sorry, I read this months ago but, still wanted to provide a review.
Two women come together for a brief and transformative time.
I was particularly pleased with the end of the book. Both of these women, in there own way and time, survived, grew, and ultimately triumphed over they're very different and challenging circumstances.
This is an enchanting story about a fictional peripheral character in the life of 1920s bombshell Louise Brooks. The flapper starlet is a big part of the story, but the lead protaganist, Cora, is so charming, I was relieved to discover that the story is really not about Louise. It's about how Louise affected the life of a woman during a time of big societal and cultural change. (Historical note: Louise Brooks was accompanied by a chaperone from Wichita that summer she spent in New York City.)
Elizabeth McGovern, the wonderful actress who plays Cora Grantham on PBS's Downton Abbey, does a lovely job as Cora Carlisle, a respectible wife and mother living a comfortable wealthy life in Wichita, Kan. McGovern has such a quiet style -- she made an enchanting narrator. My only critique is a tiny one -- she used a more upper Midwestern accent (think Minnesota) for the Kansans rather than a central/southern Kansas twang. But that's so small given the enormous charm McGovern adds to the story. She is a skilled pro and in her hands (er, voice?) this story is well cared for.
With today's fast-paced culture and seemingly daily technology changes, it was fun to sink back into a time where the generational gap consisted of shock over young women showing their ankles and not wearing corsets. Society always leaps ahead. And older generations are always shocked. We're no different today.
This is a story that has stayed with me long after the last line was read. It's one that has lingered around afterwards. I loved this story so much, I'm planning to read other novels by Laura Moriarty.
All the characters were wonderfully done with great accents. Elizabeth McGovern is a wonderful actress. I especially liked her Kansas accent.