The Chaperone Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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.
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|Listening Length||13 hours and 14 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 05, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #23,399 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#76 in Biographical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#187 in Biographical Historical Fiction
#317 in Biographical Fiction (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2016
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Top reviews from the United States
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Cora's story is very well rendered and while I grew tired of her tendency to be scathingly judgmental, stunningly short-sighted & severely lacking in imagination, I appreciated where she was coming from. Her life was the personification of unconventional & she knew it but she worked a good bit of her life trying to craft a perfect facade & trying to forget or deny what was actually so. Given the time in which she grew up & lived when we meet her in the story, she has good reason to keep at it. But bit by bit, things gnaw at her & we see her change as she grows while on this trip to NYC. She's seeking to find herself. Not just where & who she came from but also who she is now & hopefully, who she can become. It's a very poignant story & I must admit that I was most emotionally invested in the Kaufmans & Mother Kaufman in particular. That Cora was so in touch with the knowledge that she was loved by her adoptive parents & had such a sweet relationship with Mother Kaufman just got me every time (the letter that Mother Kaufman had written to the sisters at the orphanage just about did me in). I did feel a bit of cynical glee when Cora finds her birth mother & the parallels to Cora's skilled lifetime of facade building. I was glad that Cora was so put off & bothered. There are other emotional hallmark moments in the story & made Cora's more annoying turns tolerable. Louise wasn't entirely wrong when she tagged Cora as a rube. Even when I wanted to throttle her, I still rooted for her.
My only problem with the book was the last third (& that's what takes my rating from 5 to 4 stars). It spanned many, many years & ran through future developments in Cora's life with her family mostly. It was good to know how her trip had lasting change in her life but it all felt a bit disjointed. It wasn't told in the cohesive narrative that the first two thirds of the book. The added parts of Louise & her fate along with her mother's really felt unnecessary. As I wrote at the outset, I wasn't that connected to Louise so it felt like a lot of dressed up info-dump and wasn't terribly interesting.
And somewhere around the 90% mark I began to feel that the story was already done. Cora changed & the world was changing still around her. It was just her insight on the times & I think it could have been wrapped up a lot sooner. Though I did very much enjoy reading about Alan & Raymond. All of the threads of morality & mores were some of my favorite aspects of the book. I was glad to see among other things, The Purity Myth in the author's Acknowledgments. Overall this was a good book that I enjoyed & wonderful for a weekend trip or while passing time at the airport. I would read another by Laura Moriarty.
At the beginning of this story, I did not like either Louise or Cora. Louise is just a brat, though a lot of that gets explained in the book. This story is really not about her.
Cora is the protagonist of this book. We learn she is the wife of a lawyer, mother of 18 yo twins, with unstated reasons why she should not have to worry about getting permission from her husband to spend a month or more going from Wichita, Kansas to NYC, NY in order to chaperone a young Louise Books, who was a silent film star of the 1920's. This story starts in 1922.
I believe there are certain personality traits that transcend the time in which one lives. For examples, being judgmental, open-minded, having a tendency to bigotry of any kind, being the kind of person who gives away her power to others because she cares what they think. Others will certainly disagree, saying that's the way it was back then. But I don't feel that way. By the age of Cora, 36, I knew how much I did not know and how little right I had to judge anyone. And I also knew that others' opinion of me didn't matter to me a whit. But to Cora, it ALL mattered. And I didn't like her very much for her smugness.
Moving on, she has several profound experiences in NYC, there are flashbacks explaining why her life at home is the way it is, and frankly, my frustration with her grew. Thankfully, these experiences gave her the courage and bravery to do what she needed to do to make her life a much more pleasant place. And then I really fell for Cora.....Because all the rest of the stuff she had to endure WAS a product of the times in which she lived. She absolutely did the best she could, and better. Her world grew much larger and so did she, as a result.
Backtracking, I felt that her pivotal point came during a very candid moment with Louise, in which Louise is quite drunk. One wishes Louise would have been so honest earlier in the story, but that wouldn't have worked given the timespan of the trip in NYC.
The characters in this story are fascinating, living during a fascinating period in our history, prohibition. It was also nice to read a story about this time period in which the protagonist, while not wildy wealthy, at least is well off. It was interesting to read such little details like Louise paying $.25 for lunch, which included a good tip....
Totally recommend this book for everyone and anyone, men and women, alike. It probably discusses issues not suitable for children under 12 or 13, depending on their parents views. If I say what those issues are, I'm giving away spoilers.....so I won't.
But, this was a great and mesmerizing read.
Top reviews from other countries
Cora soon won me over given the author's skill at pacing the story, introducing circumstances that at first seemed contrived but were soon accepted as integral, and the insight into the conflict between the conventional and rather repressed chaperone and the clever self-aware ambitious youngster who was supposed to be in her charge.
The novel is something of a 'saga'. Once into the narrative it held my attention but the multiplicity of plot lines, and the necessary simplification of character that this entails, presents a problem. The various stages of Louise Brooks life are included but sometimes more as a backdrop that the main event. How Cora progresses from her initial conservative and restricted attitudes to one of tolerance and understanding is the fundamental basis of the story and this is believable and gripping. There is much to enjoy and appreciate in this novel.
For those who want to know more I suggest that "Louise Brooks: a Biography" by Barry Paris, refereed to in the author's reading list. The quote above Chapter 1 "I have a gift for enraging people". Laura Moriarty certainly did her homework and my guess is that whenever I suspected some minor error I was wrong! The development of this interesting novel, from concept to completion, must be an interesting story in itself!
I have recommended it to so many people since I finished it, and there is a small queue forming of people who are borrowing it from me. The language is beautiful, AND THERE ARE NO ANNOYING AMERICANISMS!!!!
If you are looking for a good book that will make you think, feel and wonder then this is it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you are a Brooks fan (and who isn't?), then you should read it anyway, there is more than enough of her to keep anyone satisfied. And yes, she lives up to reputation totally.
But Cora's incredible journey, including tales of adoption, homosexuality, and many other issues frowned upon back then are dealt with in a wonderfully clever way. A super mix of fact and fiction, and very much worth reading