Jazz Age January: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

January 16, 2014 Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, Roaring 20s 27

Get a Wiggle on, Bookworms,

jazzageIt’s time for Jazz Age January! Leah at Books Speak Volumes is hosting this swell event. Today we’re going to celebrate this sockdollager with some great reading about the 1920s! My first pick for this event is The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, and was it EVER the bee’s knees!

The bulk of the book is set during the summer of 1922. Cora Carlisle is a 36 year old woman in need of an adventure and some answers about her past. When the opportunity presents itself to chaperone a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks to New York City for the summer, Cora jumps at the chance.

thechaperone

Unfortunately, Louise isn’t an easy gal to chaperone. Oh no, that little dollface has her own agenda that doesn’t include propriety, sobriety, or any other -iety. Louise is set on having a gas in the big city. Though Cora has her hands full trying to keep Louise out of trouble, we soon learn that Cora is no stranger to controversy.

Cora’s decision to accompany Louise was based in large part on her desperate desire to uncover some information on her birth family. Yep. Ye olde Orphan Train strikes again! Cora was shipped off from NYC as a 6-year-old and moved on to a life on a Kansas farm. But that’s not all. Cora’s life has more secrets than meet the eye and her trip to New York is more fruitful than she ever imagined.

I think what really made this book a winner for me was the opportunity to view social issues through a 1920’s lense. Cora’s escapade with Louise in the city was a vehicle to look at the era as a whole. Prohibition. Women’s suffrage. Birth control. Homosexuality. Marriage. Social hierarchy. It was downright titillating.

Oh, and BTW, modern folks, Louise Brooks goes on to become one of the most famous movie stars ever. She ruled silent films, but her difficult attitude led to her untimely downfall in the film industry. Louise’s life was crazy, but certainly never boring. She published her memoirs shortly before her death in 1985 to great acclaim. It would seem Louise managed to get the last laugh.

What is your favorite book about or written in the 1920s? Has anybody else read The Chaperone? What did you think?

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27 Responses to “Jazz Age January: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty”

  1. Tanya

    I’m looking at everyone else’s reviews for Jazz Age January before I decide what else i’m going to read. The Chaperon sounds like a definite possibility.

  2. Jennine G.

    Does this have true life people for characters in a fictional setting then? Orphan Train is near the top of my TBR, so maybe I’ll read this one right after it!

    • Words For Worms

      Louise Brooks is definitely real, but I’m guessing Cora and most definitely Cora’s story are fictionalized. I think the parts about Louise were fairly well researched, but I’m no expert on the subject. I really liked this one, I hope you do tackle it!

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Can I cheat and say my favorite movie set in the 1920s? It is Thoroughly Modern Millie with Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore. As you can imagine, it is mightily delightful. (Er, also kind of racist, though. It’s an older movie.)

    • Words For Worms

      Oh most certainly, I encourage all sorts of rule bending. I’ve never seen Thoroughly Modern Millie, I didn’t realize it starred Mary Poppins and MTM!

  4. Megan M.

    I’m totally jealous of anyone who can pull off the Louise Brooks look. I just can’t do hair shorter than my collarbone. Ugh.

    • Words For Worms

      That look is so stinking cute, but I can’t pull it off either. I think my face is too round to pull off a short style, I would feel terribly unbalanced.

  5. Emily

    I’m literally 50 pages from the end of this book and loving it! I skipped your review for now but I will definitely be back once I’m done!

  6. Lisa Brown

    I read The Chaperone awhile back and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I either wasn’t paying attention or just was not aware that Louise Brooks was a real flesh and blood person. I also loved the view on social issues and the world, as I never knew my grandmothers, both were dead by the time I was born, but both were teenagers in the 1920’s. Cora’s coming into her own sexuality and finding out about the secrets of her past made her one courageous old broad!

  7. Kelly from Readlately.com

    It’s really cool you were able to find out all that posthumous stuff about her (oops, isn’t that one of the words you can’t pronounce? it’s ok, just read it silently!) Is black-and-white an actual picture of Louise?

    • Words For Worms

      Indeed, I have issues with “posthumous!” Most of the stuff I learned about Louise was from the book, corroborated by a quick wikipedia search. That is an actual Louise Brooks gif from one of her movies. How cool is the internet?!

  8. Christy (A Good Stopping Point)

    I have this book on my to-read list as I enjoyed two of Laura Moriarty’s other books, which I assume are quite different as they are not historical fiction. But I do recommend her debut novel, The Center of Everything. Nice find re: that gif of Louise Brooks.

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