The Chaperone Laura Moriarty Time, and the way it introduces change, lie at the core of Laura Moriarty’s novel. Set in the ’20s, the author’s latest work chronicles a fateful summer that unites middle-aged housewife Cora Carlisle – who’s trapped in an unfulfilling marriage – with the 15-year-old future screen icon Louise Brooks.
Louise’s parents ask Cora to accompany their daughter to New York City so the teen can join a prestigious dance programme, but Cora has her own reason for coming to the big city: uncovering her family’s roots. Cora watches as the precocious Louise scrutinises – and ultimately eschews – racial discrimination, gender bias and the tenets of Prohibition. Inspired by Louise’s freedom and frustrated by an unproductive visit with her own mother, Cora sheds her ideological corset and begins to resist convention, showing compassion for the marginalised and searching for passion elsewhere in her stalled life. Helen Matatov