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A Reader of Fictions: Audiobook Review: The Chaperone

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Chaperone

The Chaperone

Author: Laura Moriarty
Narrator: Elizabeth McGovern
Duration: 13 hrs, 18 mins
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Read: May 1-7, 2013
Source: Overdrive

Description from Goodreads:
The Chaperone is 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 15-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 20th century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

You guys, this book is so awesome. I totally would have finished this tomorrow, but I got home and was like eff these books I'm reading, because I want to listen to The Chaperone. You know it's good when you're making up excuses to keep listening!

Why Did I Read This Book?
I finally realized that I could download an OverDrive app onto my iPod Touch and download audiobooks onto it, which is way easier than going to the library to get the discs, which I then have to rip onto my computer, move to my iPod, and then delete from both after (so don't yell at me for stealing please). Anyway, this was my first one from there, and I basically just had it show me all the available audiobooks, and scrolled to the first interesting one. *pats self on back for an excellent selection*

What's the Story Here?
Okay, so The Chaperone is all about a chaperone. How's that? Worst synopsis ever? Alright, so the book is about Cora, a bored housewife who agrees to chaperone a young Louise Brooks to New York City for the summer, as Louise had been accepted to a dance program. Cora has her own reasons for wanting to go, since she lived in New York City at a home for "friendless girls" when she was a child, before she was shipped out west on an orphan train and adopted in Kansas. If you're really interested in Louise Brooks, I warn you that she's really only the framing element and mostly remains on the periphery of the story. She's also a bit of a jerk.

How did I like Cora?
At first, I found Cora utterly insufferable. Much as Louise was whiny and unlikable, I totally took her petulant side over Cora's, because Cora mouthed off all the worst platitudes about virtue and the evils of drink and so forth. As the book goes along, though, Cora progresses wonderfully, both because of what she learns about her past and what she learns about life from Louise. She totally opens up and becomes this really empowered, strong woman, and I love it so much.

And the Romance?
Cora has long been unsatisfied in her marriage, because her husband stopped coming to the marriage bed after their twin sons were born. Because of how rough the birth was on her, they both agreed (as did the doctor) that she shouldn't have anymore. Still, Cora felt like they should be able to do something. She learns some things and partway through the book she has this revival, and it's just so great. Like, she starts off completely conventional, but finds out how much better life is if you live it the way that works for you. The romance is completely not like those usually found in books and is very touching.

How was the ending?
The story sort of fell apart towards the end. The last few chapters felt like epilogue on top of epilogue, because, where The Chaperone had been linear with occasional flashbacks, now the narration would jump several years forward all of a sudden and relate what everyone was doing now. While I was still interested, from a plot perspective, this was really weak, and the pacing was all off.

How was the Narration?
Though I have a slight obsession with celebrity narrators, I didn't choose this for that reason, because I totally did not recognize McGovern's name, but she plays Cora on Downton Abbey. Now she narrates a story about a Cora. Very interesting happenstance that. All actors aren't great narrators of course, but McGovern narrated fabulously well. She clearly distinguishes between characters and does some good accents too.

Sum It Up with a GIF:

Rating: 4/5

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Blogger Kayla Beck said...

I've had my eye on this one for a while, but I usually avoid US historical fiction because I always hated US history in school and whatnot. Yes, yes, I know that's unpatriotic and all, but still. I know I have quirky tastes. Back to the review, I don't think that we get much Penguin on Overdrive in my library system, but I'm putting this on my Audible wishlist if it's on there. Thanks for sharing!

June 5, 2013 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I love Overdrive! Makes audiobooks a million times better, especially for audiobooks that have a million CD's.

I really liked The Chaperone as well. I liked Cora from the beginning, I just found her story to be fascinating and I liked the twists and turns that it took. I completely agree that Louise was a bit of a jerk, but I liked her anyway (which is probably because I felt sorry for her!).

June 5, 2013 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews said...

I am so here for the Downton Abbey gif and the fact that Elizabeth McGovern narrated this book! Yes, I love this show very much :P

This book sounds amazing! I'm always into historical fiction and character growth but yikes about the ending >< Fantastic review Christina!

June 5, 2013 at 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Roaring Twenties have always fascinated me, so I absolutely love the sound of this novel! Ha, I doubt I'd like Cora much in the beginning, either. Sounds like she's got that holier-than-thou kind of attitude that I HATE SO MUCH, so it's a relief she changes later on. Thanks for putting this one on my radar, Christina. :)

June 5, 2013 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I like this time period. Though I don't read a lot of historical, I do like them from this time period. I don't think this is a book for me, but I'm glad that you liked it. It does sound good.

June 5, 2013 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Ashley @ The Bibliophile's Corner said...

AGH! This sounds wonderful. Since watching The Great Gatsby, my love of the 20s has been rekindled and I have been looking for some more books set during this decade.

Thanks for the great review!

June 5, 2013 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Holy nutsack! I just read the thing at the beginning that said this is 13 hours. That's long! That's probably normal for an audio book and you're like "this bitch cray" but that seems sooooo long.

Hm it sounds like both the women were pretty annoying, happy to see that Cora grew a lot throughout the story though. That's always welcome with me. I am definitely curious about how she came to find her own happiness, that sounds fun. Sorry the ending dragged!

June 6, 2013 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This is the one you recommended to me, right? It sounds so great! I definitely want to get it on audio since Elizabeth McGovern narrates it! I love her on Downton Abbey!

June 6, 2013 at 9:25 PM  

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