The Chaperone is a well written, fascinating story. I’d never heard of Louise Brooks or the fact that the Catholic Church in New York arranged for orphans to be put on trains headed west to find families to take them in. Combine this silent movie icon and those orphan trains, and I have a new favorite book. Did you know there is a Louise Brooks Society for heavens sake!
Laura Moriarty is a writer’s writer. She builds this story around the woman who chaperone’s Louise Brooks when she is accepted at a summer dance program in New York. The 1920’s and 30’s setting of the novel is rich with the manners, clothes, prejudices, and social norms that all inform the story. I insist you add this title to your reading list. I will leave you with one of my favorite passages in this excellent book.
“She would owe this understanding to her time in New York, and even more to Louise. That’s what spending time with the young can do–it’s the big payoff for all the pain. The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through.”
My own beautiful mother in the 1920’s with the new haircut of the times.