She's not in Kansas anymore: Lawrence resident Laura Moriarty goes to 1920s New York with Louise Brooks in her fourth novel, The Chaperone.By Earl R. Richardson, for USA TODAY
She's not in Kansas anymore: Lawrence resident Laura Moriarty goes to 1920s New York with Louise Brooks in her fourth novel, The Chaperone.The book:The Chaperoneby Laura MoriartyRiverhead, $26.95 Why it's hot:Downton Abbey's Elizabeth McGovern narrates the audiobook and will star in the film version.A taste: "The remarkable black hair, shiny and straight and cropped just below her ears, the ends tapering forward on both sides as if forming arrows to her full lips. A smooth curtain of thick bangs stopped abruptly above her brows … really, this girl looked like no one else."On sale: June 5The authorQuick bio: Moriarty, 41, who teaches creative writing at the University of Kansas, lives in Lawrence with her husband, Ben Eggleston, a professor of philosophy, and their daughter, Vivian, 8. The Chaperone is her fourth novel.Fun fact: The chaperone in this novel is named Cora, just like the character McGovern plays on Downton Abbey. "I hadn't seen Downton Abbey when I was writing it, and I think I might have changed the name if I'd known. It's just a coincidence, and I wonder if they'll change it for the movie so people don't get mixed up."On McGovern in the movie adaptation: "I've always really liked her, and like everyone else I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan. In a lot of ways it's similar to the character she plays because it's a similar time period, but this Cora is so different from that Cora. That Cora grew up in wealth and lives in England. This Cora is very much a Midwesterner with humble roots."On how she came to write about Louise Brooks: "I knew her personality was very vibrant and that she was difficult, self-destructive in a lot ways and smart and interesting. But when I had read she had left Wichita at 15 with a chaperone I started thinking, 'I wonder if I could write a novel about that.' "On Brooks' signature look: "She had the bangs, the real Buster Brown, and I think with her features and how she looked, it was just completely striking to the point where if she changed it she wouldn't really look like herself."Up next: Moriarty is doing research for a new novel, this one set in the 1930s.Her summer reading: "I'm going to reread Baby Jesus Pawn Shop by Lucia Orth. It's a little bit like The Chaperone in that it has a fictional character and a real historical backdrop. It takes place in the Philippines in the 1980s."E-books or print? "I don't have an e-reader yet. I'm still reading books and don't know when I'll make the jump. I do listen to audiobooks. I love to listen to a book when I'm walking in the woods when they have a wonderful narrator."
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