The Chaperone is 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.
Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a 15-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she’s in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever.
For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the 20th century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
©2012 Laura Moriarty (P)2012 Penguin Audio
The first two parts of this novel were different, unexpected and very thought provoking. I was enthralled and spent the better part of two days listening. I loved the insight into the early days of women's rights from the perspective of a woman of the time who was neither a radical feminist nor a doormat. In addition, the early part of the plot is believable and engrossing. The novel was interesting simply for the story.
With that said, I think Moiarty needs a new editor. Ultimately, the third part of the book was a disappointment. Too many issues were addressed and wrapped up with a neat bow to the extent that the conclusion was a disappointment. The aspects of the book that, at the beginning were fascinating, ultimately became trite because too many issues were neatly concluded.
Even so, I really liked this book because Moiarty vividly painted the early part of the century and filled it with characters that were both flawed and human. Many of us can identify with most of them.
Elizabeth McGovern was fantastic and her accents were flawless. Don't let my complaints keep you from reading this book.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I think I was expecting a more sanitized story about the era - like most books are when written about a glorious time in history. I was surprised and pleased that the book was honest about what was really going on behind closed doors - and closed minds. The characters are fully fleshed out, real and flawed. Elizabeth McGovern does a terrific job bringing them to life. There's a lot to talk about if you choose this as a book club book.
Elizabeth McGovern was awesome.
There are a lot of memorable scenes. I think the novel touches on human nature a lot.
Cora, because she is so real, and I think most readers will like her, though maybe not all of the time. But is anyone likable all of the time?
I really think this story is refreshing. Some of the period stuff is neat. I think it was well researched.
Fascinating story of a woman and the girl-woman she was hired to chaperone. The story was a trip through the sexual morals of the 20th century and what happens when sexual identities are suppressed. Lives are sadly changed and coping skills are twisted to conform to society expectations. The book definitely held my attention. The writing was fast paced, but still had many parts that caused me to think and reflect on what life was like throughout the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. I plan to recommend this book to my book club.
Parts of it reminded me of "East of Eden," other parts reminded me of "The Thorn Birds," and of a book I recently read, "People of the Book. It really was unlike any other book I have read.
I liked the part when she finally discovered the reasons for her charges behavior and how it changed her perception of who she was.
No, it was a bit too long for that in my hurried life, but I was anxious to get back to it when I could not listen to it.
The narrator, Elizabeth McGovern, spoke in a way that made each character so real, her voice so fitting for each person described in this book.
The characters in the story could all be identified with. They had such heart and soul, such determination. So many were so strong, willing to take risks, live fulfilling lives. Each person continued to grow, unusual bonds were created, lasting, important bonds.
I kept being amazed. I wanted to know more, This audiobook captured my heart. I cried so much in the end.
An amazing story, an amazing author, an amazing narrator.
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?
Added Audible to my 2 hour commute, consuming books at rapid pace, and rating books based on keeping me engaged and making time fly!
Cora Carlisle embodies the change in attitude - some sudden, some gradual - over decades that typified women of her generation. A very engaging journey with Cora - deftly narrated by another Cora (Elizabeth McGovern, a/k/a Countess Cora Crawley of Downton Abbey). McGovern doesn't go to great lengths to effect character voices, but by the second or third chapter you can pick up on her distinctions. Part III, at first, seemed unnecessary - all of the action is in the prime of Cora's life - but as the story resolves, I became grateful for the resolution and it only continued our examination of Cora's transformation with the times. A worthwhile read/listen!
This was a beautiful book, many-layered and satisfying. I know that good fiction can and often does end leaving open questions about the lives of the characters. I hadn't appreciated how warmly satisfying it is to follow a story like this one to its fully realized conclusion.
And who but Elizabeth McGovern could have rendered the story with more grace, empathy and warmth? Moriarty and McGovern combined to create a flawless listening experience.
This beautifully written novel starts off slowly – but please don’t let that dissuade you from purchasing it. With its slow start, the listener, like the protagonist, Cora, gets to experience the tantalizing feeling that something more is out there, just out of reach. And when Cora finally reaches that place, geographically and emotionally, the listener also gets to experience her happiness, her self-awakening, her life’s poignant journey. As a fair warning to others who listen to audiobooks while commuting to and from work: this book will make you cry. So grab a tissue, be patient, and I hope you LOVE this story as much as I did.
I was so surprised to find that I was more interested in Cora's story as the book opened and was delighted to find my wish granted. It took skill to take the spotlight away from someone so famously beautiful and interesting as Louise Brooks (although we still get plenty of her, as well).
The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Carlisle was done so well. I love their pragmatism.
I have never listened to her read, but was enchanted. I can't imagine the book without her, and would be pleased to find her reading something I chose again.
Louise herself, as the reason for my initial interest in the book, because she remains so interesting.
I demand a great deal of escapist fiction and this was perfectly satisfying. Unusual story, intelligent, over too soon.
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