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The Chaperoneby Laura Moriarty
Synopses & Reviews
USA Today's #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.
"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 naÃ¯ve 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)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz, speakeasies, and a new kind of woman—the flapper.
Vera Abramowitz is determined to leave her gritty childhood behind and live a more exciting life, one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees, the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning the nickname Dollface.”
As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entrée into a world filled with bootleg bourbon, wailing jazz, and money to burn. She thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them until the truth comes out. Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicagos infamous Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
The heady life shes living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life, as Chicago hurtles toward one of the most infamous days in its history, the St. Valentines Day Massacre.
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Everything in the ward seemed different now, and I no longer felt its calming presence. The Fitzgeralds stirred something in me that had been dormant for a long time, and I was not prepared to face it....
From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.
When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard. Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius. But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended....
READERS GUIDE INCLUDED
About the Author
Laura Moriarty is the author of The Center of Everything, The Rest of Her Life, and While I’m Falling. She lives in Kansas.
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