The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Perhaps an uplifting novel would be suitable for the day we enter the calendar Spring 2020. Reach for The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. ( Moriarty was born in Honolulu in 1970. She took a degree in social work, earned an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Kansas before becoming the recipient  of the George Bennett Fellowship for Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

The novel is a captivating story of a woman who chaperoned the irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922 and of the Summer that would change them both.

Only a few years before becoming a famous silent film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives.

For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s and 1930s – from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, the Great Depression and the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women – this evocative novel illustrates the rapid social changes in America a century ago. A beautiful, entertaining read.

The novel was brought to the screen by Director Michael Engler in 2018 ( It features Elizabeth McGovern and Haley Lu Richardson. Available on DVD at

371 pages in Riverside Books

First published 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1594487019

Check if this uplifting fiction is in stock at your local library by consulting the online catalogue here at

Laura Moriarty
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