Book Review Club: The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty #review

Last month my readers group read books that have been made into films, and then we watched the movies. One of my choices was:

Chaperone coverThe Chaperone
by Laura Moriarty
Historical Women’s FictionSet in the early 1920s, the book tells the story of a journey to New York City of Louise Brooks, who became a famous silent movie actress, and her chaperone Cora Kaufman Carlisle. Louise Brooks was a real person, and you can read about her life here:But the story is mainly about Cora, whom I assume is a fictional character. She chooses to accompany the free-spirited Louise to NYC because that’s where she was born. Cora was taken as a three-year-old to an orphanage run by nuns, and she was later sent west on one of the orphan trains where she was adopted by a couple named Kaufman. The flash backs to her past story are quite interesting. Once in NY she tries to learn who her birth parents are.That’s all I will say. Cora’s story is far more compelling and complicated than I anticipated from a teetotalling middle-aged Kansas housewife. I enjoyed most of the book, but found the ending dragged out too long.

movie posterThe book was made into a movie of the same name by the creators of Downton Abbey. I watched it on PBS.

Elizabeth McGovern plays Cora, whose name was inexplicably changed to Norma for the film. Haley Lou Richardson played Louise Brooks.

I liked the movie. McGovern does a good acting job, despite the fact that she’s about 20 years older than the character she plays. The movie captures the heart of the story, and mercifully, ends sooner. I thought the script was pretty good.

I recommend both for fans of historical fiction, although I wouldn’t fault anyone for not quite finishing the book.


As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy

Book Review Club: Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins #review

For this month’s Book Review Club, I chose Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins, who is African-American. It seems appropriate for Black History Month.

Forbidden coverForbidden
by Beverly Jenkins
Avon, 2016

When I saw the cover of the book, I thought it was an inter-racial romance, but I was wrong.

Forbidden is set in the post-Civil War era. The hero, Rhine Fontaine, is a former slave who is light-skinned enough to pass into white society, and he has done so successfully by the time the book starts. The setting is Virginia City, Nevada, which apparently had a substantial African-American community at that time. Rhine, who was educated with his white half-brother, is a smart businessman who owns a number of properties in town. He runs the Union Saloon, where he refuses to discriminate between races. As a result, most of his customers are African-Americans. Rhine has a foot in both races. Though he has passed, he refuses to turn his back on his people.

Enter our heroine, Eddy Carmichael. Eddy is a free woman of color as were her parents, who died recently in a snow storm. She is headed to California, but only makes it to Virginia City where she is hired as a cook boarding house. Rhine is immediately attracted to the feisty, independent-minded, Eddy, but as a white man she is forbidden to him, except as a mistress. And Eddy will settle for no less than marriage. Plus Rhine is already engaged to a white girl whose father has business deals with Rhine.

Rhine wants Eddy, but knows he will have to cross back over the color line if he wants to marry her.

I like Beverly Jenkins books and Forbidden was no exception. Both main characters were sympathetic and likable. The interactions between white and black Republicans were quite fascinating. The rift between the races was already widening just a few years after the Civil War. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and recommend it for fans of historical romance.


As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

Click icon for more book review blogs @Barrie Summy