The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Lou Lou, is that you?

Hello, it’s 1987 calling and it wants its perfume back. Cacheral named a fragrance Lou Lou, after silent-film star, Louise Brooks, in 1987. When it launched, I immediately loved everything about it – from the rich and distinctive (controversial) fragrance to the exquisite blue bottle and glorious floral packaging. And because I haven’t really moved on from the eighties, I still wear it (only in winter, of course) and I like it as much as I did the very first time I tried it on. So naturally, when I saw Laura Moriarty’s novel, The Chaperone, a story about Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York (with a chaperone, hence the title), I put it on my ‘Novels set in the 1920s’ reading list (1920s and 1980s being my favourite and best decades).

But I’m not sure that Moriarty’s take on Louise Brooks will endure as long as Cacheral’s…

The Chaperone is really about the chaperone, not Louise. Well, duh! Unfortunately I wasn’t so interested in the chaperone (whose name is Cora Carlisle). The story looks back on Cora’s childhood and her marriage – Louise Brooks is a bit-part, used to highlight the changing social conventions of the 1920s.

I persisted with the book nonetheless, hoping for some glorious descriptions of New York during the Jazz Age, Prohibition, flappers and gin cocktails. No such luck. The historical references were trite and read as if they’d been tacked on to give the story currency. Furthermore, Cora’s actions seemed contrary to her words and therefore it was difficult to believe in her.

2/5 If you want the glamour of New York in the twenties, check out these titles – particularly good is Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

It’s gin, all about gin. The vast majority of the time I drink my gin with tonic, ice and lime. Sometimes I make a cocktail. This Watermelon Gin Punch number is a nice summer choice (although I think they made an error in the recipe when they said it serves eight…).

the-chaperobe-laura-moriarty

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