The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Chaperone

Plot Summary Part 4

The extended family lives a happy life built on multiple lies.

Cora even grew so happy with the situation that she started inviting Raymond, Alan's buttsex partner, over for dinner a lot. She treated him like a member of the family because, after all, Raymond was the one having sex with her husband. She and Raymond became great buddies. After all, they had so much in common--they both had sex with Alan.

Are you believing any of this? I mean, it's what's written in the book, but it's totally unbelievable as a storyline.

Meanwhile, Louise grew up and became a famous movie star. She got boned by a lot of guys, including Charlie Chaplin, made a lot of movies, became very famous, and then she got old, her movies flopped, she went bankrupt, and she became prematurely grey and friendless. Ha ha ha.

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Cora's lady friends hold a meeting to demonstrate against the sale of condoms. But Cora tells them she thinks condoms are great. Remember this is the 1920's before birth control was widely available. There is a lot of blather about pros and cons of birth control, and a lot of blather about Prohibition too in this book. I have mentioned virtually none of it, however, as it seemed to have little or no relevance to the plot.

Cora agonized whether to tell Greta that she wasn't Greta's aunt but rather just some stranger who was boning her dad Joseph. She debates for a long time but in the end leaves Greta ignorant, just as her sons are ignorant that their dad is a butt muncher.

The last third of the book loses steam as we start to follow the adventures of Cora's children and grandchildren. Since we've never met them before, we really have nothing emotionally invested in them and don't care if they fight in WW II or die or whatever. Then Alan dies, and Cora gives Raymond a great, big hug and thanks him for boning her husband in the ass all these years.

Gradually everyone else in the book dies of old age. Or boredom.

The end.

Literary Criticism:

The moment I finished reading this awful book, I asked myself, "What was this book primarily about?" and found that I had no clue. Ostensibly from the title you would think it was the story about Cora chaperoning Louise in New York. But the story quickly became about Cora's adventures starting at the orphanage. There actually was very little that happened on the chaperoning front--mostly, it was Cora telling Louise not to be such a slut and Louise giving her the finger. Nothing actually happened.

Cora's story got interesting when she found out Alan was a homosexual. It could have been a great scandal. It could have opened great avenues for blackmail. Instead, Cora meekly accepted it until she found a new source of penis, and then reconciled with Alan as part of one, big, dysfunctional family. That's not very interesting from a dramatic point of view.

Then there was the story of Louise's professional acting career. But all of it was told third hand through press reports in the most uninteresting way possible.

This book could have been interesting. But first it would have had to decide what it was about. Was it the story of the wife dealing with the gay husband? If so, that one story could have been the subject of the entire book. Let her try to win back her husband, competing against the gay guy. Let the kids find out, let the world find out, and show the husband being ostracized. Show the wife and husband fighting back and forth and reconciling, or not. That big part of the story was simply smoothed over in a single chapter.

Another interesting story that could have been the focus of the entire book was the story of Louise's life. Show us what it is like to be a famous actress, flirting with actors and directors and manipulating and being manipulated in the film industry. That could have been a great story.

Lastly, one could have done a book about chaperonage that showed a real relationship between Cora and Louise. Show them battling, and show one or both of them changing. Show Cora convincing Louise not to be such a slut. Or show Louise convincing Cora to get drunk and become a slut. Maybe show the two of them (eventually, after Louise turned 18) becoming lesbians and Cora bringing Louise home to Alan--now that would have been an interesting plot twist!

What we got instead was a mish-mash of several stories, none of which were very interesting.

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