A captivating novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922, and the summer that would change them both. Only a few years before becoming a famous actress and an icon for her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita to make it big 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 is a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip. She has no idea what she’s in for: Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous blunt bangs and black bob, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention.
Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will change their lives forever. For Cora, New York holds the promise of discovery that might prove an answer to the question at the center of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in a strange and bustling city, she embarks on her own mission. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, it liberates her in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of the summer, Cora’s eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
I must confess that I didn’t know anything about Louise Brooks before starting the book. I didn’t recognize her name, and am not familiar with the time period at all. After reading and getting to know the characters a bit, I did do some research into who Louise was. Quite the star and rebel.
This story isn’t really about Louise though, it’s about Cora. Her experiences and life are quite intriguing. I must admit that I found the story up to and including the summer mentioned in the summary to be a bit ho-hum. I found everything really picked up and became intriguing after the summer ended. The events become remarkable and amazing.
One thing reading this book as shown me is how fast and how much beliefs and acceptances have changed in the past hundred years. This first few pages alone, with their mention of corsets and strict moral codes is quite a shock to someone thoroughly entrenched in the modern world. I am so glad I life in this day and age, and not back in the early 1900’s.
There is so much in this book that would make for great discussion. Lots of things that can’t be mentioned in a non-spoiler review. It almost seems like I can’t really say anything about the book. It’s something you need to talk about with people who have already read it, which would make it a great book club read.
Challenges read for:
None – is that possible?