Tag Archives: laura moriarty

Winner of THE CHAPERONE Audiobook

Congratulations to Kathy S., the winner of the audiobook giveaway for THE CHAPERONE. Enjoy!

Giveaway: THE CHAPERONE Audiobook

Yesterday, I reviewed The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. I’d like to give away my copy of the audiobook of The Chaperone. If you’d like a chance to win it, leave me a comment here, and be sure to include your email address. I will pick a winner this Friday, July 27. Good luck!

THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty

THe Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Lauria Moriarty’s The Chaperone has gotten great reviews this summer, so I thought I would give it a try. When the book opens in 1922, a fifteen-year old Louise Brooks, who would later become a very famous movie star, has been accepted into a dance program in New York City.  She lives in Wichita, and her mother agrees to let her go to New York if she is accompanied by a chaperone. That chaperone is Cora Carlisle, a thirty-six year-old married Wichita woman who has her own reasons for wanting to spend a summer in New York.  The two couldn’t be more different – Louise is irreverent and disdainful of social conventions, and Cora is very traditional, adhering strictly to the rules of decorum and decency.

What I loved about The Chaperone is that it took so many unexpected turns that I could never predict how it would end. Cora turns out to be a complicated woman, while Louise has her own secrets. The summer the two women spend in New York is a pivotal one for each of them; it springboards Louise into fame and success, and it allows Cora to unleash her own passions and figure out who she really is. The summer’s end happens three-quarters of the way through The Chaperone; the rest of the book follows Cora’s life back in Wichita (with Louise making appearances here and there as well). The book then speeds through the rest of Cora’s life, but its pacing didn’t bother me.

Like so many others, I loved this story. I loved seeing Cora’s transformation, which in many ways mirrored the transformations of American society during the same time period, notably in women’s rights, sexuality, and reproductive freedom. I liked seeing the true Cora come alive from within the confines of her corsets. I didn’t find Louise as compelling, which is ironic because she is of course based on a real person (and a person who left behind a lot of source material). I also liked the themes of motherhood and identity, which pervade the whole book in some form or another.

The Chaperone was a very satisfying read. The accolades it has received this summer are well-deserved. This is the second book I’ve read by Laura Moriarty – the first was While I’m Falling, which I reviewed here. They are SUCH different books, in tone, in setting, in mood. It’s hard to believe they were written by the same person. I preferred The Chaperone – a much more memorable and compelling book, in my opinion.

I mostly listened to The Chaperone on audio. It is narrated by Elizabeth McGovern, who alternates between a faux British accent for the narration and a Midwestern twangy accent for Cora and a listless tone for Louise. I didn’t love the audio, mostly because of the jarring transitions between voices. Cora especially seemed even more timid and conventional in audio than she came across in writing. I preferred the print to the audio.

Thank you to Riverhead Books for the print and Penguin for the audio review copies.

WHILE I’M FALLING by Laura Moriarty

First, a quick reminder that there are only a few spaces left for the EDIWTB book club for Stiltsville, by Susanna Daniel. (Read more about the book here.) If you'd like to sign up, send me an email ASAP to gweiswasser@gmail.com. I will be sending the list to Harper on Monday AM.

Moriarty And now back to regular programming. I just finished While I'm Falling, by Laura Moriarty. I was in the mood for something lighter than my usual depressing fare, and this fit the bill. While I'm Falling is about the breakup of the Von Holten family – sisters Veronica and Elise and their parents Dan and Natalie. When Dan and Natalie decide to divorce, Natalie loses her financial security, just at the same time that Veronica is facing her own crisis of confidence in college. The two spiral downward at the same time, culminating in the two women turning to each other in a time of mutual desperation and ultimately learning more about themselves and each other.

I liked Moriarty's precise and detailed writing, and her satisfying portrayal of the interior lives of her characters. She has a keen eye for detail, and the sitations she depicted were realistic and relatable. I am not usually a fan of endings, but this one was fine for me – her characters grew and found themselves in a better spot, without unnecessary flourishes or outlandish plot turns. I especially liked what Moriarty had to say about motherhood and identity, especially when one's children have grown.

I found a temporary narration change two-thirds of the way through the book a bit jarring, when the book went from first-person Veronica to the third person, focused on Natalie. I understand why Moriarty did it – she needed to get inside Natalie's head to thoughts and memories to which Veronica would not be privy. But it took some getting used to.

I also found Veronica a bit frustrating in the middle of the book, as she made repeated bad decisions that seemed unrealistic after a while – it was hard to see someone messing up that badly, on so many fronts, all at once. (Though I do see where the title of the book comes from…).

I switched back and forth between the audio and print of While I'm Falling. The narration on audio was servicable, but not particularly compelling. I liked the voice of Natalie better than that of Veronica, who seemed too indifferent. Overall, I preferred the print version.

While I'm Falling was an enjoyable read, especially as a break between some heavier fare. I'd be interested to read more from Moriarty.

 

WHILE I’M FALLING by Laura Moriarty

I read about While I'm Falling, by Laura Moriarty, in the August Indie Next List newsletter. The blurb: "While I'm Falling is a gripping story of what happens to good people blindsided by unforeseen circumstances of divorce and financial insecurity. Like the best writers of suspense, Laura Moriarty keeps the reader engaged with her vulnerable and heroic characters as she exquisitely mines the murky terrain of families and people in crisis and recovery." 

From Amazon:

Moriarty Moriarty exposes the underbelly of family strife in this coming-of-age
college drama set near Lawrence, Kans. One day, Veronica Von Holten is
happy, med-school bound, in love with her boyfriend and not far from
her supportive family. Then her father finds another man in the bed he
shares with his wife of 26 years. As a messy divorce ensues, Veronica
struggles to keep her own life in check while her mother's unravels,
and a car accident, a house-sitting gig gone bad and an illicit kiss
turn Veronica's personal life upside down. Things come to a head when
her mother shows up on Veronica's dorm doorstep with the elderly family
dog, Bowzer. Veronica is faced with the difficult task of navigating
personal strife on top of her family's struggle to define itself anew.
Moriarty delves into this realistic but
narrow world with an inviting honesty and creates a cast of vivid and
flawed characters that will hold readers rapt with a queasy sense of
unease.

I've read a bunch of positive reviews of this book, one that compared Moriarty to Jodi Picoult, and one that called the book boring. I can't decide if it's worth pursuing or not. Also, is it YA or literary fiction? (Does it matter?)

Would love to know if anyone has read this and can weigh in..