I have long been a fan of Laura Moriarty's books, and her newest, The Chaperone is one I am raving about. This latest from Moriarty is a bit different than her other books - set in 1922, this is Moriarty's first foray into historical fiction and it is amazing.
Much like the Paris Wife by Paula McLain captured Ernest and Hadley Hemingway's lives, and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan chronicles a clandestine affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, The Chaperone features Louise Brooks, a young actress going to New York City for the first time. Her chaperone, nearly middle aged Cora Carlisle, is intrigued by this opportunity to visit New York City, her birthplace, and where she spent her younger years at an orphanage. Louise is quite the handful - upsetting every idea of propriety that Cora has come to know and believe in. From sneaking out at night to getting drunk, Cora's job trying to control Louise is hard work. However, her initial goal of finding her birth mother takes up any free time she has and has Cora reflecting on her childhood in the orphanage, her adoption to a family in Wichita, and her naive marriage to Alan, her husband.
Although this book begins in 1922, Cora's life unfolds over the pages and through the decades. She reflects at one point how happy she is that life is long and things that once devastated her are now met with understanding and acceptance. Louise Brooks is not the central character in this novel, but I enjoyed learning more about this actress and her troubled path to fame. Cora is a remarkable woman, a character that I enjoyed watching develop.
This is a book I will be recommending to many - fans of Laura Moriarty's won't be disappointed.