*Found a Susan Phillips which was cheesy but certainly fat and cheerful. Yay! Also did the swim in 57:03, down from 64:plus 2 years ago. Yay!
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. The Chaperone is a pleasure, a great example of the joys of historical fiction. Unlike The Paris Wife, which felt like it was trying to be non-fiction done without research to back it up, lacking originality, The Chaperone, through the character of Cora Carlisle, creates a vivid, warm picture of what life was like in the 1920's, as well as providing a more general, but equally fascinating, picture of how people adapt their true selves to society's rules and expectations. Throughout the book, the characters reveal more and more layers and nuances, making for an absorbing and interesting read.
The Chaperone was on a lot of summer's best reading lists, and now I know why. If you have three more weeks of summer left, I urge you to pick this one up!
Great lines: "She was grateful that life was long."
. . . "The train windows had been open for most of the trip from Chicago, and she felt as if she'd been basted in grease, thoroughly heated, and finally dipped in dust."
When Cora's grandniece interrogates her about the Klan's development in Wichita, Moriarty writes, "Were people just stupider then? Meaner? Maybe, Cora allowed. But it was foolish to assume that had you lived in that time, you wouldn't be guilty of the same ignorance, unable to reason your way out. Cora herself had only escaped that particular stupidity because of her special circumstance. Other confusions had held her longer."
Aside from her skillful writing and perceptive imagination, I think what makes the book stand out is Moriarty's ability to show how people "reason their ways out" of various conflicts--the book is, overall, a hopeful picture of human nature and what life really is like between the lines of history.
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Right now I am mostly through "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide", by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, but I do need another good piece of fiction for the rest of the weekend. There IS the Olympics, but the coverage is driving me crazy, as they hold the events we want to see till after 10 pm, and, frankly, Scarlett, I'm in bed by then. Ah well. Here I am reveling in summer, all other issues notwithstanding:
I am off to prep for The Swim--and the Cat Stuffing Event, degree of difficulty 7.8. Hope I survive both unscathed!