Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You and The Peacock Emporium
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them—and to the men they love—becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers, they’re committed to their job—bringing books to people who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning that will change their lives.
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope. At times funny, at others heartbreaking, this is a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.
Synopsis source: Goodreads
This was a bit of a slow start for me and had some additional slow parts throughout but ultimately I really loved the story and the characters!
There are many fascinating aspects of history that this story touches on, the main one being the limitations women faced living in small-town Appalachia in the late 1930s. It seems progress reaches Appalachia slowly.
We are also given a peek at the struggle to form unions against factory owners in an effort to fight unfair and unsafe working conditions, as represented here with the coal mine. Many factory owners didn’t just operate with dangerous practices known to cause injury or death in favor of extra money in their balance sheet, but they also took unfair advantage of their workers by mandating the use of company stores, doctors, and housing as a means to keep their laborers indebted to them and in need of continued work.
I loved all the women and their allies as well as seeing their relationships develop and grow. I loved Margery’s sense of right and wrong, Alice’s hope, Izzy’s fortitude and courage, Sophia’s quiet wisdom, and Beth’s set of brass ovaries. Using the WPA’s pack horse library as a means of bringing the women together, giving them a sense of purpose, the ability to earn a wage and be more independent was a great way to both instruct on a little known aspect of history as well as further the story of these fiercely strong women. I was a bit dissatisfied with how things were resolved with Jeffery Van Cleve, but it was a realistic ending for the time and situation, so I’ll have to let it go.
The audio narration was fantastic, I love Julia Whelan!
Heartwarming and hopeful, this story illustrates the strength found in the bonds of friendship and that different doesn’t mean wrong.
Until next time,
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