THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty is a wonderful read. The story begins in 1922 when a middle-aged woman from Kansas goes to New York as the chaperone for 15-year-old Louise Brooks, a rebellious, thoroughly obnoxious girl who is destined for fame as one of the world’s best-known silent film stars. Why did she take on this onerous job? The chaperone has a secret motive for being in New York and sees her chance to accomplish a goal while her young charge spends her days in dancing class. The fictional tale follows both women through the rest of their lives, although they only intersect one other time.
For those who don’t know much about silent films or the Roaring Twenties, Louise Brooks is a real person, an actress who wrote her memoirs late in life. The chaperone’s life is fiction. As a historian, I can attest to the accuracy of the history–the author has done good work in reproducing the Roaring Twenties. (Less time is spent in subsequent decades.) And as a writer, I admire Moriarty’s fluid style. My next move is to get the autobiography of Louise Brooks and see how much of her life is real and how much was fictionalized.
Did you know there is a Louise Brooks Society? Visit it at www.pandorasbox.com.