The Giver of Starsby Published 08 Oct 2019
|The Giver of Stars.pdf|
|Publisher||Pamela Dorman Books|
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.
The Giver of Stars Reviews
The Giver of Stars is a historical fiction novel featuring true events that took place in Kentucky in late 30s and early 40s when a group of young women got employed by a US government scheme to go into the mountains on horses and take books to families who might not otherwise get a chance to read.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I did enjoy the author's Me Before You but didn't feel the need to carry on with the two follow up books. Some stories are better left alone. The Giver of Stars is a completely different kind of book and I have to say, the first few chapters were just ok for me... But then something clicked and I started really enjoying the story and getting to know the two main female characters, the English bride Alice and the stubborn troublemaker Margery. The Giver of Stars is a riveting story of extraordinary, courageous and determined women and highlights the importance of books in people's lives. If you enjoy historical fiction from early 20th century, I'd say definitely give this one a go!
Many thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for my review copy in exchange for an honest review.
I am far in the minority here with this one. For someone who rarely is I am not sure what is wrong with me. Way too much drama here for me and with similarities to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek I am just one BIG grump so I am moving on!
I was so excited to see that Ms. Moyes had chosen to write a historical fiction novel and was fortunate enough to obtain an advanced readers copy. It is different from her previous contemporary women’s fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This book is a quick read, the prose flows beautifully and the plot moves along at a good pace. I found the characters to be well developed, interesting and unique.
As you all know from the blurb this book is based on the 1930’s Horseback Librarians program in Kentucky which was started by Eleanor Roosevelt. The purpose was to bring books and thus help educate and enrich the lives of people who lived in the hills in the Appalachian countryside of Kentucky. The program asked a lot of the women who would ride horses and mules laden with books many miles, often in inclement weather, to reach the homes and families in the mountains.
When the call goes out in Baileyville, Kentucky for volunteers for the program there are a myriad of different women with unique personalities. The group is headed by Margery O’Hare who has lived in these mountains her entire life and knows all of the routes up the mountains. She is a fiercely independent woman having suffered from the iron fist of her bootlegger father who died when she was young.
Into the mix we meet Alice Wright a newly arrived English woman who has come to marry Bennett Van Cleve, a wealthy son of a mine baron whom she met on his European tour. Alice wanted so badly to leave her sheltered, suffocating life in England that she fell for the handsome American very quickly. She is disappointed to find that they will not be living in Louisville as she had previously thought, but instead this small town called Baileyville. She soon finds that living with her father in law is just an impossible situation as he has set rules for the household that she must abide by. When she gets the chance to volunteer for the library program she jumps at the chance to get out of the house, meet other women and explore the beautiful mountains.
There is also Beth, Izzy and an African American woman named Sonia who all help out with the running of the library. Their stories I will leave you to discover.
Though the library sounds like a good idea to some, there are others in the town who don’t like mingling with the mountain people and have restricted views of what a woman should be doing with her life. They are up for a battle against these strong and courageous women.
There are many obstacles for them to overcome including racism, prejudice against women working outside the home, physical limitations and suspicion about Alice because she speaks differently, her British accent, and is considered an outsider.
The novel strengthens my belief of the importance of books in everyone’s lives. How fortunate we all are that there are libraries and bookstores where we can enrich our lives with an immense selection of books to suit our every need and taste.
This book will introduce you to the Horseback Librarian program, the beautiful hills of Kentucky and some pretty awful people who only see the hills as a place to mine coal and make their pockets heavy without a thought to the beauty they are destroying. Intruders are not welcome!
I recommend this book to anyone who wants a great historical read with wonderfully descriptive writing and characters that you will not soon forget.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
I don’t have to give 5 billion stars to this book! I would donate the full galaxy system to the author if I could. (I already made a phone call and talked to a NASA technician about their star auction department, unfortunately he hanged up on my face! Can you believe it? And I told them I was Buzz Aldrin’s wife, those young people are really disrespectful, see I still stay in role!)
This amazing, fantastic, funny, heartwarming, emotional, genuine book gave me HOPE, HAPPINESS, made me SO RELIEVED, CARELESS, LIGHT, OVER THE MOON IN LOVE WITH IT!
Those amazing, brave, badass, smart, irresistible, strong women carrying books, riding on horses, communicating, educating, helping people to broaden their horizons, meet new worlds, discover their own capabilities are so far best respectable, honorable, devoted, vivid fictional characters you may love with passion.
This may be the best historical, provocative, powerful, encouraging feminist manifesto help women to discover their own identities even though they were living in small moderate town crowded with chauvinists, uneducated, wild men population. They came together to form a town library and found the first version of Amazon delivery (by the postwomen on horses) to reach more families whose minds are seeking to be educated, improved, entertained so by helping them those women give the families a short break from their daily chores and take a small step to new fictional worlds.
Alice: recently married British woman, neglected from her husband, belittled by his father in law Mr. Van Cleeve (biggest SOB, mash up of Downtown Abbey’s Thomas Barrow, Outlader’s Black Jack Randall and J.R. Ewing of Dallas) and being caged in her home life became volunteer to work for the library. Margery O’hare, independent, tough, strong local woman mentors her by introducing her wild but breathtaking nature of mountains which opens the doors to the new world and gives Alice a mesmerizing kind of freedom.
Izzy, Beth and Sophia joins their team and they find themselves bounded with close friendship, sisterhood they’ve never felt before. Their connection, trust, sharing secrets and open their hearts to each other are most remarkable moments of the book warn your hearts and put a big smile on your faces. Maybe those women’s close and genuine connection against the outer world who want to bend, destroy and separate them are better than the romance part of the books.
So many parts make you pissed off, clenching your fists, giving you undeniable urge to spit on Mr. Van Cleeve’s face ( of course after punching him senselessly). The book triggers your inner feminist soul and awakens the secret warrior inside you!
As like Neil Gaiman said: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragon exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten”
But at least, the conclusion of those amazing women’s stories are satisfying, relieving and earning too many applauses and happy dance, happy hour celebration with my homemade margaritas!
Jojo Moyes is one of the most epic, talented, creative authors on the earth who knows how to touch a human soul, how to relate with human heart and of course how to break it into million pieces.
Do you want to know my real story when I was reading “Me Before You”! I was at my husband’s friends’ house and I got so bored of the conversation. Before I left our home as a preparation I already downloaded epub version of the book on my phone and I started to read it from my phone hid inside my bag throughout our visit, making “hmmm” sounds at the same time as if I was listening best face lifting techniques( oh really!!!). But unfortunately I was reading the last 30 pages of the book. And you know how it ended, right? (Come on! If you haven’t read it at least you may have watched amazing Emilia Clarke’s performance!) And you know what I did! I threw my bag against the wall and I started screaming “Why Willllll whhhyyyyy did you do that!!!!” ( There is no exaggeration! My husband’s friends enjoyed my reaction but their wives still think I need to start popping up Prozac tablets and joining their meditation club, no thanks!)
I was banned to read the sequels of the book. Well, I read them at the night on my restroom breaks secretly and yeah, I couldn’t say they affected me as the first book did. But after a long time, Moyes found her way, release this memorable story and share with us this brave women’s inspirational journey based on real life events.
So dear JOJO MOYES, my all votes for you this year for best historical fiction novel (I’m so ashamed because I wrote the same for The World That We Knew! But my heart is big enough to love more books at the same time. ) Especially the last page of the book gave me a meaningful and long laughter.
I’m finishing my review with Jorge Luis Borges’ meaningful quote: “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” (I imagine the same, library next to liquor shop selling the best Chardonnays of the world! Cheers!)
A brilliant epic historical drama set in the US Depression era in Kentucky and the Appalachians from Jojo Moyes that draws on real life actual history. Those who have been life long readers will understand the power of books and reading, Moyes focuses on just how important books can be in challenging and changing people and in shaping the world in this powerful telling of the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. The English Alice Wright weds American Bennett Van Cleve on his European Tour to escape the limitations of her life. However, she is to rue her decision when she arrives in Baileyville, Kentucky and the realities and restrictions of small town living begin to sink in, made all the more unbearable by her father in law. She is to take the momentous step of volunteering for Eleanor Roosevelt's efforts to establish travelling libraries, despite opposition at home, delivering books to the impoverished, travelling great distances on horseback. Alice is to find adventure, great friendships, fulfillment, freedom, adversity, danger, resistance and suspicion as she embarks on a path that is set to change fundamentally her identity.
The woman leading the book initiative is the brave Margery O'Hare, the daughter of a bootlegger, strong, independent, unafraid, determined and defiant, and with whom Alice finds support and much needed friendship. Along with Beth, Izzy, and the black Sonia, the courageous women face the initial reluctance of families and women, only to be eventually welcomed and valued. However, men are afraid of losing control of women, and other powerful forces, such as mine owners, exploiting workers who labour in deplorable conditions for poor rewards, see them as a threat and danger to the established social, political and economic order. Increasing literacy, books and knowledge inevitably have consequences, making people question what is, expand horizons, fire the imagination, but change never comes easy, with the rise of implacable resistance, danger and tragedy that follows in its wake.
Moyes writes with passion and verve in this impeccably researched novel, full of details and rich descriptions of this historical era. The women are a disparate group of unconventional, stand out complex characters, that are well developed and who I invested in. This is a terrific read that immerses the reader in this period of US history and the norms, expectations and attitudes of the time, with the drama enhanced by the beautiful location with its wilderness. It touches on issues of racism, class, misogyny, exploitation, and hard lives, with a moving and heartwarming narrative that resonates with our contemporary world where the hard won rights of women can no longer be taken for granted. Additionally, it serves as a salutory reminder of just what an impact books can make to individuals and the world, a world in which our libraries are being closed and under continual threat today. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.