Laura Moriarty's "The Chaperone": Life is Long

the chaperone laura moriarty When you start to read Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone you may find yourself thinking it's a tad slow. Then suddenly you will look up from the book and realize you've read a hundred pages. The novel is deceptive in that sense -- it creeps up, slowly at first, until you realize you're totally smitten with it.

When Cora agreed to be Louise Brooks' chaperone in New York City for a summer she didn't really know what she was in for. She knew Louise could be difficult and that she needed a firm hand. She thought her job was to protect Louise from the world but Louise had no desire to be protected. Louise didn't want to just get a taste of big city life -- she wanted to dive in and feast upon it. The only thing holding her back was Cora.

Cora was from a different generation. She didn't approve of the short skirts and the lack of corsets in the latest fashion. Cora believed in temperance and in living a good, quiet life. She was firm in her beliefs and did her best to attempt to turn Louise around to the idea of them. It would be easy, at first, to think that Louise Brooks may dominate this novel but she doesn't. Yet she shapes it because if it were not for Louise, Cora wouldn't be the Cora we get to know.

When Cora headed to New York City she knew the trip could change her life. In fact, she was hoping it would. She had a question that needed to be answered and she was hopeful the trip would provide answers and open new avenues for her. New York changed her and it certainly changed her life... just not the way Cora expected.

The thing I perhaps found most striking about The Chaperone is all the paths that Moriarty chose not to take. There were many times that Cora found herself at a crossroads and she frequently surprised me with the paths she chose. When we meet Cora she seems absolutely conventional but we soon discover that despite it all, she has a rather unconventional spirit.

I was also impressed with the scope of the novel. It would have been easier for some authors to have ended the book earlier, but Moriarty wanted us to see the whole of Cora's life. There were times when I'd finish a chapter or a section and wonder what else there really was for Cora to do, for us to learn and there was always more. It wasn't done in a tiring way or in a way in which you wish it would end. There was simply more story because life kept happening. As Cora would say, it is a happy thing life is long.

The Chaperone is the kind of book that will make you look at your own wardrobe and smirk as you think of all the items that Cora would have found scandalous. As I read it, reclining on a lounger on the deck in my shorts and tank top, I couldn't help but chuckle about what Cora would have thought about my attire. I'm sure my pedicure -- done in OPI's Muppet-inspired Animalistic red -- would have caused her to sputter. I am certain I will think of Cora when I'm getting ready for a night out on more than one occasion. And I'll smile because that what good books and characters do -- they make you remember them.

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My thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing me with an advance copy of The Chaperone to review. All opinions expressed are my own.