The Giver of Stars
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
“A great narrative about personal strength and really captures how books bring communities together.” —Reese Witherspoon
From the author of the forthcoming Someone Else’s Shoes, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond in Depression-era America
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 Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them--and to the men they love--becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity, and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic--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.
An adventure story grounded in female competence and mutual support, and an obvious affection for the popular literature of the early 20th century, give this Depression-era novel plenty of appeal. Alice Wright escapes her stifling English family by marrying an American, but this choice leads to further misery in the rural Kentucky household of her unaffectionate husband and his domineering father, the owner of the local coal mine. She finds respite in riding with the women of the new WPA-sponsored horseback library. She's sustained by her friendships with the other women, especially the brash, self-sufficient Margery O'Hare, and the appreciation of the isolated families she serves. But powerful men in Baileyville oppose the library, as it employs a black woman, influences women and children's minds with fiction, encourages previously illiterate families to defend their rights against encroaching mining companies, and teaches women about intimacy through a secret copy of Married Love. Moyes (Still Me) stereotypes her antagonists a bit, but provides tremendous warmth among the librarians and centers their perspectives thoroughly. There's plenty of drama, but the reader's lasting impression is one of love.