In 1922, Cora Carlisle becomes the chaperone of a young Louise Brooks as she heads to New York to become a dancer. Cora is an unassuming wife and mother from Kansas who has lived a quiet life. Louise is a young flapper with dreams of making it big and getting out of Kansas. Cora has ulterior motives in going to New York. Only her husband knows that she was born in New York and raised in an orphanage until she was sent on an orphan train west and adopted by the Carlisles. Cora wants to know who she is and where she came from. At the orphanage she meets Joseph who helps her find her records. Cora’s marriage is also not what it seems and she finds herself attracted to Joseph and willing to risk everything. The story is told in the present with flashbacks to Cora’s life before New York. We learn more and more as the story unfolds.
I really enjoyed this story about Cora and her life both before and after New York. The audiobook was wonderful to listen to and I never really wanted to turn it off. I liked that Louise was a real person and the actual events of her story were used to tell this tale. I did think it went on a little too long. We do get Cora’s entire life story from birth to death, but I would have been happy if it had ended shortly after she got back from New York. The rest seemed like more of an extended epilogue/summary of events and very different storytelling from the first two-thirds of the book. There was a lot of wonderful historical information in this book and I would highly recommend it.