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ONEThe first time Cora heard the name Louise Brooks, she was parked outside the Wichita Library in a Model-T Ford, waiting for the rain to stop.

If Cora had been alone, unencumbered, she might have made a dash across the lawn and up the library’s stone steps, but she and her friend Viola Hammond had spent the morning going door-to-door in their neighborhood, collecting books for the new children’s room, and the considerable fruits of their efforts were safe and dry in four crates in the backseat.

Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.

Drawing on the rich history of the 1920s, ’30s, and beyond—from the orphan trains to Prohibition, flappers, and the onset of the Great Depression to the burgeoning movement for equal rights and new opportunities for women—Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone illustrates how rapidly everything, from fashion and hemlines to values and attitudes, was changing at this time and what a vast difference it all made for Louise Brooks, Cora Carlisle, and others like them.

Now rain fell fast enough to slice green leaves from the big oak outside the library.

The lilacs trembled and tossed.“Don’t you think she’s a tiresome snob? She didn’t like to gossip, but she could hardly count Myra Brooks as a friend. Her hair is black like Myra’s, but perfectly straight like an Oriental’s, and she wears it in a Buster Brown.” Viola gestured just below her ears. She had it cut like that when they moved here years ago.

Her boys were already gone for the summer, both of them working on a farm outside Winfield. Cora was still getting used to the quiet, and also the freedom, of this new era of her life.

Now, long after Della left for the day, the house stayed clean, with no muddy footprints on the floor, and no records scattered around the phonograph.

Soon to be a feature film from the creators of Downton Abbey starring Elizabeth Mc Govern, The Chaperone is a New York Times-bestselling novel about the woman who chaperoned an irreverent Louise Brooks to New York City in the 1920s and the summer that would change them both.

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