Saturday, February 8, 2014

Book Review - The Chaperone

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty was another pick for my Literary Junkies book club.  The title and cover made me think it wasn't really my type of book (plus the endorsement by Paula McLain, author of one of my least favorite books, The Paris Wife).  Then I learned that it takes place partially in my hometown of Wichita, KS!  I was more intrigued, because anything to do with Wichita is extra interesting to me.

The story is built around Louise Brooks (famous actress of the 20s and 30s, but I hadn't heard of her before).  She's 15 when the story starts, and needs a chaperone to take her to NYC for a dance class opportunity.  Cora Carlisle is that fictional chaperone, and is the actual main character of the book.  I really liked the first several chapters.  Cora was uptight, but likeable, with an ulterior motive for going to NYC (which we learn shortly).

Cora's background story was so interesting and definitely pulls at the heart strings.  Then about halfway through, the book took a turn.  I just got frustrated.  It was like the author thought it wasn't cutting-edge enough, and she had to go back and add a bunch of random stuff to make it more scandalous.

This is how I imagine it going.  (Spoilers in white font, so read them at your own risk!)

The author is writing about Cora in NYC.  She thinks it would be better if this could be a love story, but she doesn't want Cora to cheat on her husband.  How to get around this moral dilemma?  I know, we'll go back and make the husband gay!  That will solve everything!  And none of the children ever notice that their Dad and Mom both have boyfriends around all the time? 

Anyway, I enjoyed probably about 65% of this book, but the extra 35% felt so contrived that it kind of ruined it for me.  I am kind of interested in reading Louise Brooks' memoir now, although it sounds like she had a pretty rough life.

Have you read this?  What did you think?


  1. It's so frustrating when books start out well and have potential and then fizzle. If there are books set in or near where I have lived I do like reading them though! It always adds an interesting element to the story.

  2. I love how you did the spoilers!!! I hadn't thought about the questions you ask but now that I do... you are so right!