So, the novel of Laura Moriarty is called “The Chaperone”, and this implies the existence of two heroines – the “Chaperone” herself and the person she accompanies. In the interaction of the participants in this impromptu duet, two poles are embodied in the ideas regarding the possible female fate and stereotypes of female behavior in society.
Two dimensions can be discerned in the novel – firstly, the conversations of these two woman travelling together, – conversations separated in time by two decades, – and, secondly, the movement of the whole world around them.
Conversations are being conducted in a point in time when humanity, in some way, is still so young and does not know what will happen very soon. And, of course, these two American women are also not aware of “what the coming day has in store for them.” And on the contrary, the reader feels himself as a kind of wise observer with a skeptical smile, who was allowed to look into the Future and learn “something more.”
And so we are sweeping through numerous successive eras, making a rather thorough stop in the colorful New York of 1922 – in such a licentious and in such an unsafe city compared to the sanctimonious American outback of the Midwest, where the women came from – in New York, which the main character, however, contemplates from a rather peculiar perspective of her pressing worries.
Meanwhile, people around talk about such social problems as “prohibition”, pregnancy out of wedlock, contraception … More precisely, we have before us not abstract reasoning, but examples of how at different times public opinion influenced specific human destinies, the examples which are mixed up on a cocktail of the life paths that are so unideal on closer examination.
So the heroine, born in the nineteenth century, is amazed to discover that significant shifts in people’s views set the laws in motion, forcing them to go from hypocrisy towards greater flexibility and gentleness, to taking into account the whole variety of human inclinations and the unpredictability of life situations.