Linda Fuller, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Linda Fuller)
I was intrigued by the rules of conduct and secrets of the time period of this novel. I appreciated the strong female characters and how they created their conflicts. Definitely my favorite read of 2012.
In 1955 New York three spirited young women living at the famed Barbizon Hotel form an unlikely friendship and come of age in the glamorous post-war city that could make—or break—them.
For a small-town girl with a big dream in 1955, there is no address more glamorous than New Yorks Barbizon Hotel. Laura, a patrician beauty from Smith, arrives in its vaunted halls to work at Mademoiselle for the summer. Her hopelessly romantic roommate Dolly comes from a working-class upstate town to attend secretarial school. Vivian, a brash, redheaded British bombshell with a disregard for the hotels rules, rounds out the unlikely trio of friends.
As the summer wears on, Laura struggles to find her footing in the chic but formidable world of Manhattan publishing while Dolly battles her own demons of self-doubt. Vivian longs to sing at the Stork Club instead of just shilling cigarettes there, but finds herself floundering in more ways than one. Together, the girls embark on a journey of self-discovery that will take them from the penthouse salons of Park Avenue to the Beat scene of Greenwich Village to Atlantic Citys Steel Pier — and into the arms of very different men who will alter their lives forever.
A New York Times bestseller, The Chaperone is a captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in the 1920s 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 shes 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 isnt what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Coras 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 Moriartys 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.
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