The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes combines the history of the Pack Horse Library Project with a story of strong women coming together to support each other.Â The book highlights the role of women, racial divisions, prejudice, poverty, and the hardships of life in Kentucky at that time. At a point, the book takes a much more melodramatic turn. I wish the story had remained that of the quiet suffering and resilience of this community.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2020/05/the-giver-of-stars.html
Another book about the packhorse librarians in Kentucky as part of the WPA program in the 1930s. There was a lot of controversy when this was published one week after The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek that there was plagiarism. Apart from the general topic though they were very different books and story lines. Bookwoman focused on the blue people of Kentucky. This did not. Both though told the story of the hard times in Kentucky and the friendships with the other women librarians. I enjoyed this a lot.
I really enjoyed this book. I've seen a lot of comparison between it and the Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek. They both are about the Pack Horse Librarians set up by Eleanor Roosevelt - all of which were women. A fascinating topic. This book follows the lives of four very diverse women who come together to forge a strong bond and friendship and face adverse elements, discrimination, and strong bias. Strongly recommend for those who enjoy historical fiction!
A page-turner. Not my usual thing: my daughter (who is a big fan of Jojo Moyes) recommended it, as she knows I love historical novels. And Libraries. And while this hasn't converted me to Jojo Moyes fandom, I was impressed with its "readability."
I understand that there's controversy about this novel, and just how ... original it is, both in subject matter and on deeper levels. (I think that's the diplomatic way of putting it ...) I honestly don't know enough about the issues to feel that I'm able to comment, so my review is entirely on what I read, and my impressions of it ...
Moyes can certainly weave a story, and create engaging characters. Her main protagonist is a true "fish out of water" -- an upper middle class English girl, whose boredom with her stodgy judgemental family and social life has led her to a disastrous, whirlwind marriage, and a new life with her husband's stodgy, judgemental family, in their stodgy, judgemental Kentucky town. She's a good guide for us, as modern readers, to help us see and understand the strict social strata of the local people, and the limited opportunities for friendship and stimulation that are on offer -- until the arrival of a Government initiative to deliver library books to rural families, by horseback.
As a novel, I felt that Moyes can definitely write, but didn't have the "chops" to make more of the interesting subject matter, and serious social questions she had taken on. Some of the drama (the over-hasty marriage, a murder trial, a flood caused by sloppy practices at a local mine) were cleared up too neatly, to my mind. Some of the efforts to build up minor characters into suitable companions for the two female leads felt like padding, and I was very tempted to skim ... As I said, this isn't really my kind of thing, and I just couldn't find in it myself to care if a rather silly English girl sorted out her love life.
This book is different from most of the other Jojo Moyes books I've read. This one is set in the 1930's in the mountains of Kentucky. A group of women with very different backgrounds unite to to form a traveling library. In spite the women's differences, they become friends and support each other during some tough situations while struggling to keep the library open. This book reminded me of the bookmobile that used to come to my neighborhood in the summer when I was a child. I was so excited to go in and choose books.