The New York Times: Blunt Memories of Celluloid Life

By Janet Maslin
The New York Times

Brooks_Lulu coverThe energy source for Laura Moriarty’s new novel, “The Chaperone,” is its secondary character: Louise Brooks, at the age of 15. This book is really about the older woman enlisted to accompany Louise to New York from Wichita, Kan., during the summer of 1922. Louise was going to study dance. The woman’s job was to keep Louise on the path of virtue. As if.

By 1925 the real Louise Brooks would be in movies. By the later ’20s she would be the toast of Hollywood. By 1938 her career would be over. In 1940 she went back to Wichita for a brief spell. “The Chaperone” treats this visit pretty gently, considering what Brooks would later have to say about it: “The citizens could not decide whether they despised me for having once been a success away from home or for now being a failure in their midst.” When she went back to New York, she found that “the only well-paying career open to me, as an unsuccessful actress of 36, was that of a call girl.”

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