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“I’ve been a huge Jojo Moyes fan. Her characters are so compelling. . . It’s such a great narrative about personal strength and really captures how books bring communities together.” –Reese Witherspoon
From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.
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.
SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Great stories are about the journey, not the destination. That’s certainly the case for the first historical novel from Jojo Moyes, best-selling author of Me Before You. Inspired by the true story of the horseback librarians of Kentucky, The Giver of Stars is a Western with heart. The book’s five heroines deliver books across the Bluegrass State, boldly venturing into remote and dangerous territory. We loved Moyes’ characters, especially Margery O’Hare, whose fierce commitment to her female friendships radiates from the page. Moyes impressively immerses her characters in the era of the Great Depression, but her story reminds us of an important lesson for today’s world: The gift of learning should be free for all.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Rural Kentucky, Feisty Women, Traveling Libraries - Fascinating!
A well crafted story of rural Kentucky built around a little known government program in the 1930s that used small traveling libraries to promote literacy. But that hardly does this novel justice. Because it’s about so much more.
Alice Van Cleve is a young, English woman who marries the son of a wealthy American coal mine tycoon, to escape her too-proper life and critical parents. Alice and Bennett settle into her father-in-law’s home in rural Kentucky. Although her home life turns our disappointing, Alice soon volunteers for the fledgling library program where she meets a small group of disparate women who slowly become a tight circle of friends. One is Margery O’Hare - a gutsy mid-thirties single woman who speaks her mind, flaunts the conventions of society, and is even more interesting a character than Alice. There’s also a young woman whose polio disability and overprotective mother have closed down her life. A tomboy eager for time away from an all-male household. And a quiet, dignified black woman who knows much more about libraries than all the others put together.
But the story is less about the library program itself than about the lives of women in rural America in the 1930s. The deeply ingrained expectations that shape their lives, the limitations imposed by a conservative society, and the consequences — both good and bad — when women begin to behave more independently.
The story is also set against the growing labor movement in America. The Van Cleve mines — with their sub-standard housing, over-priced company store, and unsafe mining conditions — are relentless in their efforts to resist unionization. And like many men with money and power, Mr. Van Cleve expects (demands!) to get his way in all areas of his life. Especially dangerous in someone who so fiercely holds grudges.
It’s a suspenseful read, with unexpected twists and turns. And yet, there is also a central love story that is tender and lovely. A well-executed historical novel that will show you a slice of historical America you've probably never seen.
The Giver of Stars
This is an interesting well written book.
It will make a good movie.
Best book I’ve read this year
This was one I was sad when it was over. I absolutely loved the characters and everything about it. I had a busy week and still somehow managed to read this in a few day’s because I couldn’t put it down.