I read The Chaperone for the Blogher Book Club without knowing who the famous start let Louise Brooks even was. The book is set in 1922. Louise decides to head to NY to be a dancer and her parents ask Cora Carlisle, a 36 year old mother of two grown boys, to chaperone her from Wichita, Kansas to New York City.
Although the story revolves around Louise’s decision that rockets her into fame a few years later, the real main character is Cora. She struggles with a marriage that has unraveled over the years to simply being cordial, judgmental friends, and a desperation to find where she came from. Her chance to go to New York isn’t for Louise, it’s to find her past.
As the two women travel together, Cora is shocked again and again by how crass and brazen Louise is with men, drinking, and talking about fan and fortune.
Cora finds herself at very times pitying, angry with, and dumbfounded by her. She finds her almost uncontrollable – in an age where women were just learning about how to let go while everyone watched and judged them.
Both Cora’s marriage, childhood, and future hold surprises I wasn’t ready for. Louise finally admits something that is heart wrenching but not surprising when you think about her lifestyle. I found this book hard to put down – I actually read it in a day it was so good. I wish the author had taken more time on Cora’s life at the end of the book, but I did love it nonetheless.
I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.