“She knew who she was.” ~ Laura Moriarty
I imagine it comes as no surprise to you that I favor historical fiction. Laura Moriarty’s descriptive words were a time machine that transported me to the roaring twenties, the world my grandparents lived in—that of corsets, prohibition, crank-start cars and speak easys. Although the cover features a portrait of silent film star actress Louise Brooks, the book’s focus is on the fictional protagonist, Cora Carlisle. When I began reading The Chaperone I was under the impression the book was going to be about the summer Cora, a proper 36 year old woman from Wichita, Kansas chaperones 15 year old Louise Brooks to New york City where she attends the prestigious Denishawn Dance School. The story turned out to be a chronicle of Cora’s life. There were numerous conflicts, some of which remained unresolved; I preferred this because it is more true to life. It was an easy, fast-paced, well written and compelling read. The characters were believable and upon finishing the book I cried because I will miss them. [Does anyone else do that?] I did object to some things the author mentioned as if it were present day—condoms, divorce, shared ‘secrets’—yes, those things existed however no one ever talked about them. If you haven’t read The Chaperone, you must!
I am including discussion questions from Penguin.com because I created the Fairfield House Book Club to be an interactive exchange, please feel free to share your thoughts. THIS IS NOT A TEST! I will be posting my responses as well. Also, please let me know if you would be interested in attending next month’s book club session if it were a real-time online exchange of thoughts.
- When we first meet Louise Brooks, she seems to be the complete opposite of Cora, but the two women form an unlikely bond anyway. Are they really so dissimilar? What does Cora learn from Louise? Do you think Louise learns anything from Cora?
- When Cora arrives in New York, the city is worlds away from her life in Wichita. How much do you think Cora actually embraces New York? When she returns to Wichita, what does she bring back with her from New York? What parts of her stayed true to Wichita all along?
- Think about Louise Brooks’s behavior. How much of it would be considered scandalous today? What values has society held on to? In what ways has society changed?