Monday, 5 August 2013

Book Review: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Well, this is another book that I never would have chosen based on the cover, but again it was a nice surprise and I was easily hooked right from the start.  I think they've since re-vamped the cover and re-released it.

"On a summer's day in 1922 Cora Carlisle boards a train from Wichita, Kansas, to New York City, leaving behind a marriage that's not as perfect as it seems and a past that she buried long ago. She is charged with the care of a stunning young girl with a jet-black fringe and eyes wild and wise beyond her fifteen years. This girl is hungry for stardom and Cora for something she doesn't yet know. Cora will be many things in her lifetime - an orphan, a mother, a wife, a mistress - but in New York she is a chaperone and her life is about to change.
It is here under the bright lights of Broadway, in a time when prohibition reigns and speakeasies with their forbidden whispers behind closed doors thrive, that Cora finds what she has been searching for. It is here, in a time when illicit thrills and daring glamour sizzle beneath the laws of propriety that her life truly begins. It is here that Cora and her charge, Louise Brooks, take their first steps towards their dreams."

Believability/research of subject matter - 5/5
Another well-researched book. The details really do matter! If the details are spot on, they add to the story rather than get in the way of it. They help you picture the era and the characters better. I love that at the end of the book the author lists all the reading material she used as her sources, and there are a few books on that list that I'll be looking out for, especially the one about the 'Orphan trains'. And of course Louise Brooks' autobiography!

Quality of writing - 5/5
Very, very good. The last paragraph stood out, and also some of the descriptions - of Louise Brooks' mother, of the main character's family. Skilled use of language throughout.

Plot - 4/5
Oo, it was really good!! The way that lives intertwined in and out, and the subplot of Cora's identity kept me turning the pages like fury! I did find that the ending dragged on a bit, I really think that the point when Cora gets the postcard from Louise would be the place to stop. I know it's nice to tie up all the ends and tell exactly what happened to people, but the isn't that just telling a life story rather than telling a 'story' that is in the form of a book? An epilogue would have served the purpose.

Satisfaction - 4/5
Very satisfying for the vast majority of it. I found the very last paragraph of the book very satisfying, but again, not sure the few chapters before were really necessary, it did mean it lost its momentum.

It was very enjoyable, but again it doesn't quite hit that top rating of a book that I would read over and over. I would definitely look out for more from this author.


  1. I'm with you so much on the importance of details being historically accurate in period novels (and films, mini series, etc). I'll let a wee bit slide, but I think that for the story to truly convey a sense of the era and what life was like for the characters back in the day, details can all but make or break a book sometimes.

    ♥ Jessica

  2. I am reading that now, and really enjoying it!


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