The thought of living in the 1920’s is no longer alluring, thanks to the stark portrayal of a rigid society in, “The Chaperone.” Eager to read this novel based on the true story of famous film star Louise Brooks, I expected it to actually be about Ms. Brooks. I suppose the title should have warned me that the focus would be solely on the Chaperone, but for some reason it didn’t. Although chaperone Cora Carlisle’s life was interesting, I was disappointed that so much of the book was devoted to her struggle to grab hold of her life in the oppressive social climate, rather than a look at both the lives of Cora and Louis as they navigate New York.
The author weaved actual events into the plot, which gave the book a unique foundation and realistic quality. However, the book also touched upon every stereotype of the 1920’s, which seemed sort of ridiculous. Some of the subplots were odd and unnecessary, as if added for shock value rather than to advance the story. But, the writing was excellent and the characters seemed authentic. Cora was the perfect character to take Louise to New York because so many things about her where in need of a change, and change she did. In this respect, the book was rewarding, although the strict social structure that permeated the novel was slightly depressing.
This wasn’t the most satisfying book I’ve read lately, but it was moderately entertaining. If you don’t expect to learn anything about the film industry in the 1920’s, but would be fascinated to see how our society’s strict conservative values actually impacted people’s lives, this might be perfect for you.