The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Chaperone follows the story of Cora X, Cora Kauffman, Cora Carlisle as Louise Brooks's chaperone from Witichita, KS to New York for her studies at the Denishawn School of Dance. Louise finds Cora old and outdated doing everything she can to ruffle her feathers. But, Cora cannot be dissuaded from watching after her young charge. Louise's mother is questionable at best and Cora feels a certain duty to Louise, a desire to teach her the right way for a young lady to behave. Cora stays frustrated with Louise, Louise stays annoyed with Cora; but in the end the women come to understand how five weeks together can create a lifetime of change.
I liked this novel - the premise is strong; I wanted to love it and about 1/2 way through, I did...and then the ending just kinda simmered out. It became bogged down in an attempt of historical fiction when the rest of the novel centered around Cora and Louise. I lost Cora - she became a martyr for causes rather than a character I cared for, and Louise simply played out cliche with no true testament to what could have been a raw backstory cometh.
What I think I loved most about this novel was that Louise Brooks was a dancer with the Denishawn company in New York City. Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn were early creators of modern dance, and I studied this art myself in college. They even mentioned the phenomenally talented Martha Graham. I loved the backdrop of the dance world and I wanted more of this.
Overall, I think the novel is good, but not great. The characters and story line are strong, but they become lost in too much mellow-drama and description that isn't relevant to the plot. A good book, but not a must read.
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