The Chaperone

Laura Moriarty. Riverhead, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-1-59448-701-9
Moriarty (While I’m Falling) skims the surface of 1920s life in Wichita, Kans., where homosexuality, contraception, and being just about anything other than white and Protestant is considered a moral offence. In the summer of 1922, prim, married Cora Carlisle chaperones a young Louise Brooks, the silent film star, to New York. Cora keeps mum about her own childhood journey from the New York Home for Friendless Girls to a new life with an adopted family in Kansas, because she intends to search for her birth mother once she and Louise arrive. What follows the trip for Louise is history: film stardom until the advent of sound. What follows for Cora is at first a letdown for the reader, and then highly dubious, given her naïve and conservative nature. Though what happens in New York gives Cora a new moral order, for the rest of her life she keeps it, too, a secret. The novel, which in its final stretch races to 1982, attempts to portray Cora as a heroine buffeted by the bigotry and priggishness of the Jazz Age, but glosses over events and neglects the inner lives of many of its characters. Agent: Tracy Fisher, WME Entertainment. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2012
Release date: 06/05/2012
Genre: Fiction
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