Get ready! It's my first book review of 2014 people. I'm actually proud of my reading progress so far this year. It's only been two weeks but I've done more than I have in the last few months. That's saying something. Today's book was the January selection for the Literary Junkie's Book Club. The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty was so much better than I had expected. I wasn't looking too forward to it but I was completely captivated not even a chapter in.
What I Say:
The Chaperone is a beautifully written story about life and finding out who you are. Cora has a lot of questions about her past that I was able to relate with. I wasn't abandoned as a child like her, I grew up with a loving, stable family but I didn't know my dad for a really long time and I still don't really know him. At first, before we met, I thought that finding him and getting to know him would help me figure out who I was. He was adopted and has never been in contact with his birth parents, much like Cora. Now, even after learning that meeting my dad did nothing for me to find myself, I want to find his birth parents and learn about my ancestors. A part of me is still hoping to get answers to questions I don't even know what they are.
Cora embarks on a journey with famous movie start Louise Brooks before her success. She was accepted to a prestigious dance school in New York and Cora volunteers to accompany her in order to find some answers about where she comes from. After digging and finding a name and address, Cora meets her mother only to find disappointment. She only gets a few hours with her but in those few hours, she knows they share nothing in common except for some physical features. They can never be a part of each others' lives and while her mother maybe alright with that, Cora needs time to accept it and heal her wounds.
After meeting a man named Joseph whom she falls in love with, Cora begins to see the error in the ways she once thought and acted, thanks to Louise. She learns that sometimes there isn't just right and wrong but a gray area in between. She learns that in order to find yourself, you need to be able to accept others and the truths around you, even if they aren't something you agree with or believe in. We follow Cora long after her time with Louise in New York and witness the progression of her character. We see her slowly open to more liberal beliefs and ideas. We see her accept the future rather stay stuck in the past like many of the women in her time did. We see her grow with the world instead of fight it with all her strength. And then we see her leave the world with acceptance in knowing she's done her part and beyond.
Cora is a magnificent woman whom I wish I could have met whether she was real or not. We might not have gotten along in the beginning but we would have come to understand each other in the end. Like Cora, I have once believed I can find myself by find the people who made me. However, I've only had to endure heart break. Even through my lesson I still want to search. I only hope that I can one day take everything I've learned and make a difference like she did. I'm sure there are many others just like us thinking and hoping for the same thing.
The New York Times bestseller and the USA Today #1 Hot Fiction Pick for the summer, 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 silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing 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, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever.
For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s,’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.