The Chaperone by Laura Morairty

The Chaperone by Laura Morairty
Published by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin

It is the summer of 1922 and fifteen-year-old aspiring actress Louise Brooks has convinced her parents to allow her to study at the Denishawn School of Dancing in New York City, provided she have a chaperone for the duration of her time there. Thirty-six-year-old Cora Carlisle is an acquaintance of Louise’s mother, and has no idea what she signed up for when she agreed to spend the summer with spoiled and petulant Louise. But Cora has her own reasons for making this trip, and while Louise is at school during the days, Cora spends time searching for answers to questions she’s held on to all her life. What neither woman knows is that the time they spend together in New York will change both of their lives in immeasurable ways.

From the moment I began listening to this audiobook, I was swept into Cora’s story and hated every moment I had to spend away from it. Going into it, I knew lots of bloggers were raving about this novel but I honestly wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. When the book first begins, it’s easy to assume that you will be treated to a nice, easygoing story of a woman traveling to New York and the adventures she finds there. Instead, you are treated to a true coming of age story, a story about a woman coming into her own and realizing – and embracing – who she is, where she comes from, and what she wants for her life. Everything about it was excellent and I just loved being on this journey with Cora.

Morairty manages to cover a lot of “issues” in this one novel but she does it with such grace that everything works together in a perfect way. It never feels overwhelming or like there are too many topics competing for the readers’ attention. Also, I loved the fact that there was so much history in this one book. Most of it was just the atmosphere of the novel, the thinking of the time, and the way Morairty showed the reader the history with such subtlety.

I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Elizabeth McGovern’s narration in the audio. She has an English accent that sounds really false to me, and I wish she would have just narrated the whole thing in her regular voice. She did the characters’ voices perfectly, and besides her accent everything else about her narration was excellent. I just couldn’t get past that fake British thing, it felt so strange to me.

Overall I absolutely loved The Chaperone. It is truly a coming of age story, and I couldn’t help but falling in love with Cora, the center of it all. Just a lovely, wonderful book in every way.

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14 thoughts on “The Chaperone by Laura Morairty

    1. I think that’s her real voice now that shes lived in London for a long time … at least that’s what I’m told … but I really didn’t like it. Oh well.

  1. I was considering get this in audio, so I’m glad you enjoyed it! Was Elizabeth McGovern’s accent supposed to represent how American actors had that fake-y British-like accent in films during that time? You know, sort of how Audrey Hepburn’s accent is? I wonder if that was the intent. I have it on my wish list, so I’ll definitely listen to the sample first!

    1. Hmm, that’s an interesting take on it. From what I’ve been told, she has lived in London for a really long time and is a star on Downtown Abbey (which I’ve never seen) so I guess it’s her natural voice? I don’t know.

  2. I wasn’t expecting to love this either, but so many people did. And now I know why! Even though McGovern grew up in Illinois, she has been living in London for a long time, and is on Downton Abby, so this is probably why she is talking that way. I didn’t think it was fakey but what do I know? I loved her whole array of accents, and felt like her narration made this book even better!

    1. There were a lot of other bloggers who loved her voice so you’re definitely not alone! I think if I was familiar with her as an actress it wouldn’t have bothered me. But otherwise, I did love her array of accents and overall the audio was a great choice. This was SUCH a good book!

  3. I have this one in paper, but think that I need to experience the audio version, and will have to add it to my collection with my next audio credit. I have heard that there are multiple topics that are addressed within the framework of the story, and that it’s a tale that can’t be put down, audio or otherwise. Your review and Sandy’s have totally sold me on the audio version, so thanks for the great review today!

  4. I loved the audio of this one too!!! I actually chose to wait and listen and not read the e-galley I had. I liked the narration a nd didn’t find her accent fakey, perhaps just more refined.

  5. Have to agree with you on the audio – her accents (British and midwestern) were distracting and took away from the book. But I still really enjoyed it.

  6. Interesting that there’s such a wide range of opinion on the audio. I enjoyed listening to it and while her accent sounded a little off at times, it wasn’t a distraction for me. Maybe because I enjoyed the story so much I didn’t notice it.

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