I must confess that this book caught my attention because I thought the author was Liane Moriarty. I realized my mistake soon enough but by then the book blurb seemed interesting. I have to say that I’m glad that I came across “The Chaperone” because this is a gorgeous, gorgeous book.
The book’s main character is Cora Carlisle, a well-to-do housewife in 1920s Kansas, who accepts the responsibility of chaperoning a 15 year old girl to New York city where the girl, a Louise Brooks, wishes to attend classes at the famed Denishawn School of Dance. Cora has her own reasons for making the trip, but she must suffer the insouciant, irreverent Brooks for the trip. The trip affects Cora’s life profoundly, and she return to Wichita a markedly different person.
While Louise Brooks is based on a real person, Cora is a fictional character. But the book is about Cora, spanning about 50 years of her life in great detail. The pace is leisurely, giving the author time enough to go into those details. The Chaperone is well crafted and the story quite unpredictable, although there are subtle clues here and there. It starts of in the 1920s, and spans many years, so we get little snapshots of society via Cora’s eyes, especially about women’s issues. Quite interesting!
The book is narrated by Elizabeth McGovern. Fans of Downton Abbey will recognize her as Lady Cora Crowley, Countess of Grantham. Initially I found her reading a tad slow, but as the book picked up steam so did McGovern’s reading. Now post-read, I think McGovern was very well-suited to this book, and she does do a marvelous job.
I enjoyed this graceful book very much! Highly recommended.