I used this book for the Women Challenge, Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge, and 52 Books in 52 Weeks.
Summary from Goodreads: Only a few years before becoming a famous silent-film star and an icon of her generation, a fifteen-year-old Louise Brooks leaves Wichita, Kansas, to study with the prestigious Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Much to her annoyance, she is accompanied by a thirty-six-year-old chaperone, who is neither mother nor friend. Cora Carlisle, a complicated but traditional woman with her own reasons for making the trip, has no idea what she’s in for. Young Louise, already stunningly beautiful and sporting her famous black bob with blunt bangs, is known for her arrogance and her lack of respect for convention. Ultimately, the five weeks they spend together will transform their lives forever. For Cora, the city holds the promise of discovery that might answer the question at the core of her being, and even as she does her best to watch over Louise in this strange and bustling place she embarks on a mission of her own. And while what she finds isn’t what she anticipated, she is liberated in a way she could not have imagined. Over the course of Cora’s relationship with Louise, her eyes are opened to the promise of the twentieth century and a new understanding of the possibilities for being fully alive.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars. This was a book club pick, and I wasn’t expecting to like it much. Boy, was I wrong… I LOVED it! While others in the club and online have complained that (a) they didn’t like Cora’s husband Alan and (b) the ending was wrapped up way too quickly, I did not find these to be faults. I liked Alan (and Joseph) and thought he had good reasons to act the way he did. I liked Cora most of the time (except when she was being too conservative) and although Louise was annoying, it was interesting since she was based on a real person. The last part of the book did squeeze a large time period into a few chapters but I wanted to see how everyone ended up and I was pleased with the conclusion. An amazing historical fiction novel!