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The Giver of Stars

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A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK 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 Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK 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 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.


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A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK 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 Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK 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 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.

30 review for The Giver of Stars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    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 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!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    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 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    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 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    This is a wonderful tribute to how books can change people’s lives and to the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, so of course I loved this book. I first heard of the Pack Horse Librarians when I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. It’s a fascinating piece of history. This initiative was started by Eleanor Roosevelt as part of the Works Progress Administration set up in the mid 1930’s. At first I thought that this would be just a good story about a group of gutsy, dedicated women who brought This is a wonderful tribute to how books can change people’s lives and to the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, so of course I loved this book. I first heard of the Pack Horse Librarians when I read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. It’s a fascinating piece of history. This initiative was started by Eleanor Roosevelt as part of the Works Progress Administration set up in the mid 1930’s. At first I thought that this would be just a good story about a group of gutsy, dedicated women who brought books to people who would not otherwise have access in the hills of Kentucky. But as the story progressed, I found this book to be so much more. Margery O’Hare, strong, feisty and independent heads up the program. Alice Van Cleve is a newlywed from England, who has come to Kentucky with her American husband, son of a heartless, cunning mine owner whose interest in making money is more important than the safety of the miners and the citizens of the town. She soon finds that her marriage is not what she hoped for. Izzy, the polio stricken daughter of an established, well to do family is suffocating in her mother’s smothering. Beth, the brash local farmer’s daughter and Sophia, the astute black librarian round out this group and are later joined by Kathleen, one of the women whose family benefited from the books these women brought to her home. As these women take to the road, we see the people of this place and time and their hardships - a father with black lung disease, his wife having to do so much of the hard work, a widowed father raising two little girls, the danger of the mines, the prejudice, the racist sentiments, the poverty, the sexist attitudes towards women. Moyes realistically portrays the things that might have happened in this small mining community in Kentucky in the 1930’s. I loved how the friendships develop among these women who come to know each other, care about and support each other. They ride through treacherous conditions and I loved seeing how much the people came to look forward to their visits especially the children and how the books and magazines made a difference in their lives . Children learn to read. The sick find respite from their pain as the librarians read to them. I was moved by the impact that the books had, but also the impact that these women make, especially Margery on trying to right some of the wrongs by Van Cleve whose greed causes further suffering for these people. I found the writing lovely in places, especially the descriptions of the mountains, the landscape. Pertinent quotes from some classic books at the beginning of some chapters was a nice addition - Little Women, The Red Pony and others that I wasn’t familiar with like a little blue book you’ll have to read about for yourself :). Louisa May Alcott could not have imagined the powerful role her book plays in this story. There’s a lot packed into the novel - love stories, friendships, a murder, a courtroom drama, fabulous character development, and as I said at the outset, a wonderful tribute to books and these courageous women and a fantastic piece of historical fiction. I’m a retired librarian so I can’t rate this any less than five stars. :) I read this with Diane & Esil and as always a wonderful discussion. I received an advanced copy of this book from Pamela Dorman/Penguin through Edelweiss.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brenda -Traveling Sister host of The Traveling Friends

    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!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    5 stars “She just wasn’t sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for.” okay okay okay so where do I start? Maybe with the fact that this book is freaking awesome and I really really liked it? Sounds about right. So The Giver of Stars is basically about a group of women who work in this mobile library and their adventures while distributing books to houses that can not reach them easily. Honestly if you are not patient this book might bore you a little, because in the first 250 pages 5 stars “She just wasn’t sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for.” okay okay okay so where do I start? Maybe with the fact that this book is freaking awesome and I really really liked it? Sounds about right. So The Giver of Stars is basically about a group of women who work in this mobile library and their adventures while distributing books to houses that can not reach them easily. Honestly if you are not patient this book might bore you a little, because in the first 250 pages nothing big and shocking happens. The story builds slowly till those last 100 pages and then everything happens and it is so freaking good. So my advice if you are not feeling the book in the first few pages, I am telling you that it is all worth it in the end, because the ending is phenomenal. “There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth has gone and shifted under your feet. But there is always a way around.” Okay so I didn't hate Alice. Not my favorite character from the book, for sure not one of my favorite characters ever, but I didn't hate her like a lot of people did. On the other hand Margery is hands down one of the coolest characters I've ever read about. She made this book so precious to me. I went into this book this almost no expectations, and as a person who doesn't frequently read literary fiction I thought that I would give up on this book in no time, but now I am so glad I read it and I really do recommend it to anyone who likes good literature.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt started a traveling library program and many women answered the call to become traveling librarians. Women traveled on horseback to bring books to those living in rural areas. From the years of 1936 to 1940 over 100,000 people were brought books. Recently married, Alice (Wright) Van Cleve, has moved from England to her new “Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt started a traveling library program and many women answered the call to become traveling librarians. Women traveled on horseback to bring books to those living in rural areas. From the years of 1936 to 1940 over 100,000 people were brought books. Recently married, Alice (Wright) Van Cleve, has moved from England to her new home in Kentucky with her husband, Bennett Van Cleve and her father in law. New to the area and feeling isolated and alone in her home, she is happy to become a traveling librarian under the guidance of Margery O'Hare, a local woman who lives life on her own terms. Margery knows the mountains and shows Alice the ropes and introduces her to the people who live in the hills above the town. Soon, Margery and Alice are joined by Beth, Izzy and Sophia who contribute and help the library run even with the town appears to turn against them. Helped and looked after by Fred Guisler, the women band together, form friendships and show courage as they travel long miles in inclement weather knowing that not everyone is on their side and there are those just waiting to see them fail. "A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water." -Eleanor Roosevelt. This was a compelling book based on a true story. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this one. I also enjoyed how this book highlighted each woman's strengths and showed them supporting each other and gaining confidence and courage from being around each other. I enjoyed the positive relationships between the women, so often women are pitted against each other and in this book, they draw strength from each other and lift each other up. There is some romance in this book, but it is the women who truly shine. Plus, a book about the love of book and sharing books with others, what's not to love? Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. **Traveling Sisters Group Read

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    4.5 when I first started reading this I thought, wonderful another story about the pack librarians, this set in Kentucky. Wondered how close it would be to the The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Except for the job itself and being part of the WPA, not close at all. I was also glad that do many authors are writing about little known history, of strong women who refused to bend and accept only the roles available at that time. Then I fell for the characters, was pulled into each of their lives. 4.5 when I first started reading this I thought, wonderful another story about the pack librarians, this set in Kentucky. Wondered how close it would be to the The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Except for the job itself and being part of the WPA, not close at all. I was also glad that do many authors are writing about little known history, of strong women who refused to bend and accept only the roles available at that time. Then I fell for the characters, was pulled into each of their lives. Women from different backgrounds, but all willing to spread literacy in the mountains, whether the people could reAd or not. Just loved these characters, their customers and their stories, hardships, struggles, just so poignant. The mines and the man who ran them, the men who worked and died in them so that a nasty, a believe me he is a nasty man, could profit at the cost of their safety. Those who have read Moyes, Me before you, know that she can pull emotion out of a turnip, and I'm not a turnip but a marshmallow. So I can say, this review is based on the emotion this story illicited, the strong friendships within and the feel good nature of the ending. It is a story of struggle and perseverance, but also of love. I'll be honest, the ending was a little over the top, but since I loved so many of the characters, it was also in a very emotional way, mostly satisfying. This was October's read for Angela, Esil and myself and as always I cherish these reads and their opinions. ARC from Edelweiss.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    5 stars “She just wasn’t sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for.” okay okay okay so where do I start? Maybe with the fact that this book is freaking awesome and I really really liked it? Sounds about right. So The Giver of Stars is basically about a group of women who work in this mobile library and their adventures while distributing books to houses that can not reach them easily. Honestly if you are not patient this book might bore you a little, because in the first 250 pages 5 stars “She just wasn’t sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for.” okay okay okay so where do I start? Maybe with the fact that this book is freaking awesome and I really really liked it? Sounds about right. So The Giver of Stars is basically about a group of women who work in this mobile library and their adventures while distributing books to houses that can not reach them easily. Honestly if you are not patient this book might bore you a little, because in the first 250 pages nothing big and shocking happens. The story builds slowly till those last 100 pages and then everything happens and it is so freaking good. So my advice if you are not feeling the book in the first few pages, I am telling you that it is all worth it in the end, because the ending is phenomenal. “There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth has gone and shifted under your feet. But there is always a way around.” Okay so I didn't hate Alice. Not my favorite character from the book, for sure not one of my favorite characters ever, but I didn't hate her like a lot of people did. On the other hand Margery is hands down one of the coolest characters I've ever read about. She made this book so precious to me. I went into this book this almost no expectations, and as a person who doesn't frequently read literary fiction I thought that I would give up on this book in no time, but now I am so glad I read it and I really do recommend it to anyone who likes good literature.

  10. 4 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    4.5 Stars rounded up to 5 This was a wonderful work of historical fiction based on the WPA project "Pack Horse" librarians. It was the FDR Administration's order to create a travelling library in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Kentucky. During 1935-1943, women would ride horses to homes in these mountainous locales, delivering books to families. They would come again the next week to retrieve those books and switch them out with others. These librarians came to know these families and what 4.5 Stars rounded up to 5 This was a wonderful work of historical fiction based on the WPA project "Pack Horse" librarians. It was the FDR Administration's order to create a travelling library in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Kentucky. During 1935-1943, women would ride horses to homes in these mountainous locales, delivering books to families. They would come again the next week to retrieve those books and switch them out with others. These librarians came to know these families and what kind of books they would desire to read. At first they were met with distrust and suspicion, but these women were patient, kind and good listeners. They learned what their "customers" liked/needed over time, such as recipe books, picture books for early readers, and classics such as "Little Women." In addition, the women who volunteered for these paid travelling library positions all had unhappiness or difficult challenges in their lives. One newlywed who hailed from England not only found herself disoriented by her new environment living in the mountains of Kentucky, but also fretted at the thin walls of a home she and her new husband shared with her father-in-law. Alice's husband was hollywood star handsome and immaculately groomed, but months into their marriage they had still not experienced married love. Another Packhorse librarian was a black woman named Sophie who used to be a librarian in an all-black library in a neighboring city. She only returned to Baileyville when her brother sustained a devastating injury and became disabled. Another librarian named Izzy had a limp due to childhood polio, using a cane and a special thick shoe on one foot. Her parents coddled her as a result and she was bored with her sheltered, although comfortable existence. The leader of the library project, Margery, was notorious for living against the grain as she liked, despite other's estimation that she was living a life of ill repute. She kept company with the handsome miner Sven for about a decade, but had no intentions of getting married. All these women found a fulfillment in so many ways performing in this unique role of travelling librarian. They enjoyed nature, self-sufficiency in the elements, establishing meaningful relationships with families, and just knowing what an important role they were playing in people's lives. Their "customers" let them know week by week just how happy these books made them, and even improved the knowledge of children. In one very touching situation, a young wife and mother of three had a dying husband that was bedridden. She asked one of the travelling librarians to come inside and read to her husband for awhile, which was so therapeutic to him. There also was a lot of angst involving happiness in love relationships. The English export Alice was very attracted to and loved her husband, but months into their marriage, to her confusion and grief, they had not consummated the marriage. Fred had donated the homey and warm cabin that housed the travelling library, and he lived in a lovely abode just behind it. His wife had left him years ago, and he had learned very well to take care of himself. He was rugged and handsome and made a living raising/selling horses, but he also had become a wonderful cook and kept an immaculate home. Everyone in the library noticed the magnetic tension between Fred and Alice. Kathleen Bligh was a recent widow and mother of three young children who vowed to never marry again, heartbroken in her grief. Margery and Sven seemed to have everything going for them including enjoying married love without being married. This book had so many good things going for it such as likeable characters, life challenges met with courage and resiliency, a strong sense of community...but most of all, friendship. This little library was a safe haven from the problems of the outside world, where one could have a cup of coffee, build a fire, talk about their problems, lock the door against unwelcome visitors, or just read a book in peace. It also was a place where several women were able to build self-esteem, feel productive and add meaning to their lives. I highly recommend this heartwarming and fine book to everyone. Thank you to the publisher Pamela Dorman Books / Penguin Publishing Group who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up. "Just a little homesick, Alice answered. It was the truth, she thought. She just wasn't sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for." Alice Wright was suffocating in England. Her parents always treated her as an embarrassment, seeing her "emotional" nature and her free spirit as a definite liability, something which needed to be quashed. When she met handsome athlete Bennett Van Cleve, who is visiting England with his father, their whirlwind romance surprises 4.5 stars, rounded up. "Just a little homesick, Alice answered. It was the truth, she thought. She just wasn't sure she had yet been to the place she was homesick for." Alice Wright was suffocating in England. Her parents always treated her as an embarrassment, seeing her "emotional" nature and her free spirit as a definite liability, something which needed to be quashed. When she met handsome athlete Bennett Van Cleve, who is visiting England with his father, their whirlwind romance surprises Alice yet gives her a reason to escape her stifling life. She quickly realizes that living in rural Kentucky in the midst of the Depression isn't much more exciting. She stands out like a sore thumb in their small town, and she and Bennett live with his domineering father, who sticks his nose into everything that goes on in his household. Alice isn't interested in attending teas with the other women, many of whom hate her for landing a man like Bennett, nor is she content simply to sit at home and be idle. When Eleanor Roosevelt's traveling library program is brought to their town, and volunteers are sought, Alice quickly signs up, much to the chagrin of Bennett and his father. She strikes up a friendship with the library's leader, Margery O'Hare, a tough-talking, independent woman who was the daughter of the town's most notorious moonshiner, and someone who will never let anyone—especially a man—tell her what to do. After recruiting other women to help, the library program becomes something many residents value, not only for the books, but for the companionship these so-called packhorse librarians bring. But not everyone in the area approves—some, including Bennett’s father—don’t like the "ideas" that these books put in women’s heads. As Alice’s marriage continues to disintegrate, the library and her fellow librarians become her only source of comfort. But things are becoming more fragile at home and in town, and the librarians, particularly Margery, find themselves in danger and the library is at risk. This was a fascinating and poignant story that I raced through. It’s funny, I am not much of a fan of historical fiction yet I’ve now read two of Moyes’ historical novels and loved both. There is mystery, romance, emotion, injustice—enough to get nearly anyone fully immersed. I really do love the way Moyes writes, and these characters felt so real to me. I’m so glad I read this. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  12. 4 out of 5

    marilyn

    Englishwoman Alice Wright meets and marries Kentuckian Bennett Van Cleve after he and his father visit her homeland. Bennet sweeps her off her feet and she's madly in love, picturing living in a busy city, Instead the Bennetts live in a small mining town where they run the mines that employ most of the men while also taking advantage of the men and their families. The marriage that Alice entered into so happily is a loveless marriage, with her brutal father in law berating Alice at every turn. Englishwoman Alice Wright meets and marries Kentuckian Bennett Van Cleve after he and his father visit her homeland. Bennet sweeps her off her feet and she's madly in love, picturing living in a busy city, Instead the Bennetts live in a small mining town where they run the mines that employ most of the men while also taking advantage of the men and their families. The marriage that Alice entered into so happily is a loveless marriage, with her brutal father in law berating Alice at every turn. Alice finds solace and meaning when she starts working as a librarian, part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library. Life for Alice goes from lonely to full of adventure and friendship, as she works with other women and meets the reclusive people of the Kentucky mountains. This book is full of big and small "issues", some that are barely mentioned and others that are dealt with in more detail. Alice and her coworkers have very few rights or say in what is happening around them and to them but they manage to made a difference, as they try to help the people they deliver books to and make life better for their poor and abused neighbors. Thank you to Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss for this ARC.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    3.5 Stars This is the ideal Winter Comfort Read, put the logs on the fire, or wrap up on the couch with a warm blanket and induge yourself in a little comfort reading. Having readThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek in May this year I did feel this one sort of overlapped for me and perhaps this is my reason for a 3.5 star rating. A lovely book but more fiction than history and hence my liking it as opposed to loving it. Set in Depression era America, The Giver of Stars tells the fiction story of 3.5 Stars This is the ideal Winter Comfort Read, put the logs on the fire, or wrap up on the couch with a warm blanket and induge yourself in a little comfort reading. Having readThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek in May this year I did feel this one sort of overlapped for me and perhaps this is my reason for a 3.5 star rating. A lovely book but more fiction than history and hence my liking it as opposed to loving it. Set in Depression era America, The Giver of Stars tells the fiction story of five strong women and their unique vocations as Packhorse librarians of Kentucky. The Pack Horse library was a works progress Administration program that operaterated between 1935 and 1943 and delivered books to households in remote ares of the Appalachian mountains. While the characters are fictionalized their Jobs were real and these ladies played an important part in the lives of the people living in remote areas. The story is well written and the five female characters are likable and interesting. I enjoy stories set in the Appalachian Mountains and there is a nice sense of time and place in this novel. A heartbreaking insight into the hardships and struggles of the people that felt real for the most part. The story is a little predictable with romantic overtones to it and the ending was a bit contrived for me but other readers may love it. An enjoyable, cosy and easy historical fiction read that I think many readers will enjoy and find rewarding.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    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 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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    Maybe just to know that something this beautiful exists is all we can really ask for.” The Pack Horse Library Initiative was an initiative that was part of the New Deal project in the 1930s. It was not the first attempt to improve the number of literate residents of Kentucky, the first one lasted one year in 1913. A later attempt followed as the 1920s were approaching and lasted slightly longer than the first initiative. This story covers the initiative of the 1930s. While the people and the Maybe just to know that something this beautiful exists is all we can really ask for.” The Pack Horse Library Initiative was an initiative that was part of the New Deal project in the 1930s. It was not the first attempt to improve the number of literate residents of Kentucky, the first one lasted one year in 1913. A later attempt followed as the 1920s were approaching and lasted slightly longer than the first initiative. This story covers the initiative of the 1930s. While the people and the incidences may be based on real people or events, I tend to believe this was fairly representative of the era and location. Before reading this, I’d read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek which I also thoroughly enjoyed. I’d debated whether or not I wanted to read an ARC of The Giver of Stars, but managed to be one of the first to borrow it from my library. I’m so glad that I didn’t pass on this because of the surface similarities, although those weren’t even my concerns. Either way, similarities really all they are. Women. Librarians. These are historical facts. To the best of my knowledge any male librarians were a temporary person helping out, if there were even any of those. I loved both of these books, loved reading these stories based on history, but where I felt they diverged, beyond the details of the story, was in the writing, and I have to give Moyes the edge there for some lovely prose. That’s not to say that Richardson‘s book isn’t well written, but I preferred Moyes by a smidgen or two. ”The WPA’s Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky program ran from 1935 to 1943. At its height it brought books to more than a hundred thousand rural inhabitants. No program like it has ever been set up since. “Eastern Kentucky remains one of the poorest – and most beautiful – places in the United States.” Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Phrynne

    I really enjoyed this one so thank you to a couple of Goodreads friends who likened it to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek which made me want to read it. I love the idea of those women who set off on the backs of horses and mules to take library books to people who lived far from civilisation. The Giver of Stars tells of a group of these women and of their lives and their tribulations. Among them is Alice, a young woman from England in an unhappy marriage, Margery, a local woman with very I really enjoyed this one so thank you to a couple of Goodreads friends who likened it to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek which made me want to read it. I love the idea of those women who set off on the backs of horses and mules to take library books to people who lived far from civilisation. The Giver of Stars tells of a group of these women and of their lives and their tribulations. Among them is Alice, a young woman from England in an unhappy marriage, Margery, a local woman with very individual ideas and Sophia, a coloured woman with all the difficulties that not being white incurred. Moyes draws out every drop of emotion which is something she is very good at ( remembering Me Before You). In fact there is everything in this book including a great story, good characters, romance, history, a court scene and a library. Perfect. An easy five stars from me. So glad I read it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    With extraordinary mountain women delivering books as a part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library... that alone should have kept me interested.... ....so-so....fair/ not anywhere near outstanding. The historical facts are noteworthy.... but it was a slow pony-reading-ride for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    2.5 stars “She wasn’t really one for big groups, but she quite liked this, the jokes and the merriment, and the way that you could see actual friendships springing up around the room, like green shoots.” The Giver of Stars is a sweeping romantic western that tells a fictionalised account of the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians. It is very much a book-club kind of book as it is inspired by a real group of librarians who between 1935 and 1943 delivered books to some of the most remote regions in ★★✰✰✰ 2.5 stars “She wasn’t really one for big groups, but she quite liked this, the jokes and the merriment, and the way that you could see actual friendships springing up around the room, like green shoots.” The Giver of Stars is a sweeping romantic western that tells a fictionalised account of the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians. It is very much a book-club kind of book as it is inspired by a real group of librarians who between 1935 and 1943 delivered books to some of the most remote regions in the Appalachian Mountains. Although this project, and the women behind it, make for a very inspirational subject matter....I'm not sure that this book does them justice. While I enjoyed those parts that focused on the library project, I found much of the story to be bogged down by unnecessary drama. Most of the book focuses on the way in which the big bad Van Cleve tries to 'destroy' this project and the women behind it...and it was all-too predictable. Plus, I found the romance factor to be far too twee for me. When the narrative chronicled the librarians' rounds, swiftly taking us alongside them through their rides across a vast and treacherous landscape, I felt very much engaged. The interactions between the librarians and those who inhabit these remote places were compelling, especially since the people they visit were mistrustful, if not downright aggressive. The librarians rise to the 'challenge' and try to emphasise the importance of literature without causing offence. In these sections the novel outlines the direct correlation between poverty and illiteracy, and the way in which literature can 'unite' people together. Sadly, to deliver some of these deliberately positive messages, the book relies on a cast of shallow characters. We have the clearly good gals/guys (Alice and Margery are very much the heroines of the story) and the comically wicked guy, Van Cleve. Alice would have been more suited, and convincing, in an 18th century novel (something like Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady). Her main distinguishing attribute is that she is British, so she has an 'accent' that is different from those around her. She possess only good qualities, and it is other people's (the baddies) lack of understanding or ignorance that makes her seem like a 'rebel' of some sort (she isn't). Margery was the typical 'unconventional' woman, who is opposed to marrying until she (view spoiler)[ conveniently becomes pregnant so she just has to marry her lover/partner, if she doesn't that would make life hard for her child. (hide spoiler)] Why in historical fiction there has to be this female character who is made to seem so 'unlike' other women (often the narrative or other characters will compare her to a man) in that she is against the marriage institution and does not wish to be tied down, and then (view spoiler)[she ends up becoming a wife and a mother?! (hide spoiler)] . Alice and Margery happen to fall in love for two handsome men, who happen to be laid-back, kind, aware of social injustices as sexisms and racial intolerance (ahem...sure....lets remember that this book is set in Kentucky during the 1930s)....and they (view spoiler)[even have marry within pages of each other (hide spoiler)] . The three other librarians are not given their individual character arcs, rather if something happens to them it is usually when either Alice or Margery is there, so that it can be thanks to our heroines that these other women gain self-assurance or whatnot. In fact Alice and Margery seems singlehandedly able to right any wrongs, save lives, unmask Van Cleve... Van Cleve...is all flaws. You name it, he has it. He is corrupt, sexist, racist, cruel (against his fellow humans & animals), greedy, hypocritical...the list goes on. He is the villain. That's all you need to know. His son, Bennett, is presented as a coward who is unwilling or unable to stand up to his father (even when Van Cleve is haranguing Alice, his wife). Unlike the two heroes Bennett doesn't do physical work and doesn't care about women's rights or literature...and that's believable-ish...I guess (after all he does come from a well to do family). What I found pretty objectionable is that his sexual inexperience is made fun of by the narrative and our so called heroines & heroes. For some reason or other Bennett has never learnt about sex, and perhaps because of this he has come to regard sex as a sinful if not 'bad' act. Rather than making it clear that it was his strictly conservative and religious upbringing that has lead to his sexual abnegation/impotence, the narrative implies that it is another facet of his cowardice, something to be ridiculed as it is further confirmation that he is not 'enough' of a man (he doesn't stand up to his father, he doesn't work, he isn't concerned by the inequities around him) and because of this he is 'afraid' of having sex. Ahaha (not). If we were to reverse Alice and her husband's role (so that it was Alice who was reticent or unwilling to have sex ) wouldn't we criticise Bennett for pressuring his wife into having sex? Or of thinking her a coward or less of a woman because she doesn't want to/can't have sex? Wouldn't we disapprove of the narrative and other characters making fun of her because of it? The story started well enough but the cheesiness of the story, the one-dimensional characters, the unnecessary melodrama, were all not to my taste. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mary S. R.

    Historical fiction based on a true story of horse-riding librarians who were the Great Depression’s bookmobiles? Diverse young women, their saddlebags full of books, preparing to ride out in vast and often unfriendly terrain or reading to families who had nothing? Books + librarians + strong diverse women + horses + mountains + hardships + incredible unexplored history + great characters = me being the victim of a very brutal robbery! I have to be honest, I've read one two three four—FIVE books by Historical fiction based on a true story of horse-riding librarians who were the Great Depression’s bookmobiles? Diverse young women, their saddlebags full of books, preparing to ride out in vast and often unfriendly terrain or reading to families who had nothing? Books + librarians + strong diverse women + horses + mountains + hardships + incredible unexplored history + great characters = me being the victim of a very brutal robbery! I have to be honest, I've read one two three four—FIVE books by Joio Moyes (author of Me Before You), and having adored two & loved the another, being impressed by one, and liking the last, I know that this woman can write and that I need to get my hands on this! Don't tell anyone but *stage whispers* I actually own 8 more books by her in physical version, having bought them all in one go a couple years back because I couldn't resist the covers! But for the reason I said above, I plan to read them all one by one! Click to read the new article on this release :) Based on a true story rooted in America's past, the storytelling itself here is enthralling—the pages fly, and the book is unparalleled in its scope and its epic breadth. Funny, heartbreaking, and rewarding, it is a rich novel of women's friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond. Expected publication: October 8th 2019, already on my calendar!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Anyone who has read a jojo moyles book knows that, in reality no reviews of a new book by her are needed as her writing is the biz I had no idea what this book was about ( just the author was enough for me to want to read and review ) and so when I read the intro was surprised to read the book is based on a group of women in Kentucky in the late 1930’s who, via horseback, start a library to help encourage people in remote areas to read, it wasn’t I thought, probably a book for me but of course Anyone who has read a jojo moyles book knows that, in reality no reviews of a new book by her are needed as her writing is the biz 😎 I had no idea what this book was about ( just the author was enough for me to want to read and review ) and so when I read the intro was surprised to read the book is based on a group of women in Kentucky in the late 1930’s who, via horseback, start a library to help encourage people in remote areas to read, it wasn’t I thought, probably a book for me but of course would read it... It turned out to be magical, remarkable, emotional, joyful and any other positive adjective you can think of, truly uplifting and storytelling at its best The writing is without flaw, the characters instantly ‘easy to get to know’ and once again this author just delivers on every literary score I absolutely adored every page, every story and sub story, learnt things about America in the 1930’s that shook me and fell in love with the whole concept of what they did to encourage folk to read inc many struggles and problems along the way Every high and low, good thing and bad is told so so well, I could go on for hours about it but wont except to say for me it was almost 500 pages of reader bliss 10/10 5 Stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    My 2019 Goodreads Challenge is complete!! Thanks to book #60 being a 5 star read! I'd like to point out that this is one of my favorite covers of the year. It is gorgeous. Luckily, (but not suprisingly), the inside is just as good. I've only read two of Jojo Moyes' previous works: Me Before You (like most people) and The Girl You Left Behind (which was just okay for me). The premise of this is right up my alley, plus I looked forward to learning something new. Ms. Moyes has such a gift for My 2019 Goodreads Challenge is complete!! Thanks to book #60 being a 5 star read! I'd like to point out that this is one of my favorite covers of the year. It is gorgeous. Luckily, (but not suprisingly), the inside is just as good. I've only read two of Jojo Moyes' previous works: Me Before You (like most people) and The Girl You Left Behind (which was just okay for me). The premise of this is right up my alley, plus I looked forward to learning something new. Ms. Moyes has such a gift for writing characters with depth. Two nights in a row, I had tears rolling down my cheeks because of how sad this made me. I also felt so indignant when reading about the patriarchy of 2019 Kentucky...whoops I meant 1937 Kentucky (fortunately, we've progressed, but not as much as you'd think for 82 years and I suspect in small towns there are a lot more similarities than where I live in the burbs). I thought this was a superb work of historical fiction as well and was a perfect balance of both facts and story, which never felt burdensome. I particularly liked the little blurbs at the head of each chapter (I presume these snippets were taken from texts Ms. Moyes read while conducting her research of that time and place). A lot of the time I skim over or don't read those things at all (yeah, I'm that person), but this time I read each and every one and they really set the tone for what was coming. My only light criticism is that it started to drag a little bit towards the last 100 pages or so? I found myself starting to disengage and felt it could have been shortened a little, but again, this is a very light criticism. I'll leave the summary to others, but if this time and place interests you (or you have an inkling to learn about it) I highly recommend this read. Thanks to Edelweiss, Viking Books and JoJo Moyes for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review. Review Date: 10/21/2019 Publication Date: 10/08/2019

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes is set in Kentucky during the 1930's and Alice a new English bride finds herself living in a little town called Baileyville. Alice Wright jumps at the chance to leave her boring life in England behind and quickly marries American Bennett Van Cleve. She assumes life as a married women will be far more interesting, she has no idea her husband lives in such a remote area and shares a house with his father. When she arrives in Kentucky she discovers they will be living The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes is set in Kentucky during the 1930's and Alice a new English bride finds herself living in a little town called Baileyville. Alice Wright jumps at the chance to leave her boring life in England behind and quickly marries American Bennett Van Cleve. She assumes life as a married women will be far more interesting, she has no idea her husband lives in such a remote area and shares a house with his father. When she arrives in Kentucky she discovers they will be living in Van Cleve family home, they have very little privacy and she has nothing in common with her new husband! Bennett’s father owns the local mine, he's rich, overbearing, ruthless and a bully. Alice is soon bored sitting around the house all day, she has no friends, one Sunday in church she hears of a plan to start delivering books to remote mountain people and she's very keen to help. Margery O’Hare is in charge of setting up the new mobile library, she's a strong independent woman, she has no plans on settling down, having babies and getting married. Alice like most ladies in England, had horse riding lessons as a young girl, she decided to become a packhorse librarian and she can escape her father in laws house during the day. Eleanor Roosevelt had a idea to share the joy of reading with people living in poverty in the remote areas of Kentucky during the great depression, by supplying people with reading material, it gave them a vital link to the outside world and a glimmer of hope during such hard times. Women known as packhorse librarians delivered books to families living in very remote areas, where people have little education and no access to books. Alice's fellow librarians are a real mixed bunch, Margery, Izzy, Beth, Kathleen and Sophia. They deliver books packed in saddle bags, in all kinds of weather, winding their way through dark forests and along remote mountain trails. The women soon discover the power of independence, they share the joy of reading with the children attending the tiny local school, they become best friends and end up fighting against injustice. I loved The Giver Of Stars, one of the best books I have read this year and I gave it 5 big stars. I have shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Edelweiss, Barnes & Noble and my blog. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is a story based in the 1930s about the Horseback Librarians. Horseback Librarians did exist and this is a story of a new branch, The Baileyville Packhorse Library, Kentucky. Five women risk long rides everyday over inhospitable terrain in all weathers to bring, books and magazines to poor people living far from town with little or no transport. People are wary of them and they have to take time to earn their trust. Other people in the township are against their The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is a story based in the 1930s about the Horseback Librarians. Horseback Librarians did exist and this is a story of a new branch, The Baileyville Packhorse Library, Kentucky. Five women risk long rides everyday over inhospitable terrain in all weathers to bring, books and magazines to poor people living far from town with little or no transport. People are wary of them and they have to take time to earn their trust. Other people in the township are against their endeavour as they don't want the people to learn to read and get ideas above their station. I loved this book. It had me hooked from the first page. It was full of wonderful characters and I would love to read more about them. I didn't want this book to end. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Book of the Month

    Why I love it by Ito Aghayere My mother was the first to introduce me to the wonder and escape to be found in books. As a young immigrant in a new country with four kids in tow, my mom found the beginnings of a new life for us in the dog-eared pages of books, and taught us to find adventure and intrigue, romance and wisdom in stories as well. These were the memories that beckoned me to the world of Jojo Moyes’s latest, The Giver of Stars. At its heart, this novel is about all the many ways books Why I love it by Ito Aghayere My mother was the first to introduce me to the wonder and escape to be found in books. As a young immigrant in a new country with four kids in tow, my mom found the beginnings of a new life for us in the dog-eared pages of books, and taught us to find adventure and intrigue, romance and wisdom in stories as well. These were the memories that beckoned me to the world of Jojo Moyes’s latest, The Giver of Stars. At its heart, this novel is about all the many ways books can change lives. Based on a true story, Moyes weaves a poignant tale about the real women who brought the written word to the downtrodden and forgotten people of rural Kentucky during the Great Depression. Alice Wright is a newcomer to this landscape—a young Brit. She’s married to a handsome young American whose life in the South isn’t nearly as picturesque as he depicted while they were dating. Searching for friendship leads her to Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library, a public works project helmed by female volunteers who begin to transform the community by delivering books to neighbors near and far. Both lyrical and poetic, this moving story is about the power that books can have to tear down the barriers of class and misogyny to bring purpose, joy, and a sense of belonging to a forlorn and forgotten rural community. It’s also a story about friendship and sacrifice, justice and compassion, and a compelling homage to books that is not to be missed. Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-giver-...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Giver of Stars is an old fashioned historical novel with characters I rooted for (the librarians and their supporters) and against (Van Cleve, the villainous mine owner). Although the main characters both have a love interest, this is more a novel about working and empowerment than finding love. The perfect book for me at a time that I needed an engrossing escape.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Esil

    4 high stars The Giver of Stars was an unexpected treat. The story is set in the 1930s in a small town in the hills of Kentucky. Eighteen year old Alice arrives from England, newly married to Bennett. Living with her husband and his tyrannical father, Alice is bored out of her mind until she becomes involved in a local library project. Alice is one of a few women who deliver books on horseback to barely literate families in the surrounding area. The story comes to focus on Alice and the other 4 high stars The Giver of Stars was an unexpected treat. The story is set in the 1930s in a small town in the hills of Kentucky. Eighteen year old Alice arrives from England, newly married to Bennett. Living with her husband and his tyrannical father, Alice is bored out of her mind until she becomes involved in a local library project. Alice is one of a few women who deliver books on horseback to barely literate families in the surrounding area. The story comes to focus on Alice and the other women involved in the library. Each in her own way is unconventional, and struggling with the pressures of convention. Their friendship keeps them sane and afloat. While the story deals with serious issues, such as domestic violence, racism and sexism, the story was told relatively lightly, with a focus on the strength of these women. It was an ode to libraries, books and friendship, which together made it well worth reading. I was especially lucky to read this one with my two reading buddies, Angela and Diane, who are both librarians. I couldn’t help picturing them heroically delivering books on horseback. Thanks also to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Sometimes the Heavens are filled with an abundance of stars. Sometimes painful Darkness obscures the light altogether. Jojo Moyes sets The Giver of Stars on the back roads and country trails of Kentucky in the 1930's. A new program has been developed in which women on horseback deliver books to families who don't have regular access to small town libraries. What appears to be a literary gift is not always met with open arms from those living in the hills. Time away from chores irks some of the Sometimes the Heavens are filled with an abundance of stars. Sometimes painful Darkness obscures the light altogether. Jojo Moyes sets The Giver of Stars on the back roads and country trails of Kentucky in the 1930's. A new program has been developed in which women on horseback deliver books to families who don't have regular access to small town libraries. What appears to be a literary gift is not always met with open arms from those living in the hills. Time away from chores irks some of the male heads of families. But time can also soften stubbornness when books of recipes, canning, farming are added to the heavy saddlebags. After reading and thoroughly enjoying The Book Women of Troublesome Creek, I wanted to follow another storyline in which these traveling librarians were featured. Jojo Moyes takes this one in a different direction while introducing us to her main character of Alice Wright. Alice is as far away from Kentucky as one can get being born in England. She meets the handsome Bennett Van Cleve and falls head over heels. She welcomes the chance to leave her stodgy life controlled by her parents. Bennett wisks her away and takes her to his home in Kentucky where his wealthy father owns the mining company. It's here that the honeymoon is shaken with no honey and no moon. Reality sets in and Alice finds out first hand the cruelty that exists in her new father-in-law. To escape from this oppressive new life, Alice comes to learn about the traveling librarians. Although met with resistance from her husband and his father, Alice defies them and takes to the trails. This is going to be a giant burr under her saddle throughout the book. The Giver of Stars is filled with country folk of all natures and dispositions. Alice will be greatly impacted by her friendship with Margery O'Hare, a feisty hill country woman whose life will be in the greatest of danger. Jojo Moyes will carry us through some very rough terrain throughout this one as we become involved in the lives of these characters. Fine writing is always expected of Moyes and she doesn't disappoint in this one. A very satisfying read, indeed.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    4.5 stars I should know…know that when I read a Jojo Moyes book that it’s going to pack an emotional punch but with this blurb, I just didn’t see it coming. THE GIVER OF STARS had me invested quickly and feeling like a family member to the librarian sisterhood, so that when things happened, I felt devastated and scared to read on. The themes of misogyny, racism and feminism made this both emotional and empowering. The context of reading, teaching poor and downtrodden women, children and men to 4.5 stars I should know…know that when I read a Jojo Moyes book that it’s going to pack an emotional punch but with this blurb, I just didn’t see it coming. THE GIVER OF STARS had me invested quickly and feeling like a family member to the librarian sisterhood, so that when things happened, I felt devastated and scared to read on. The themes of misogyny, racism and feminism made this both emotional and empowering. The context of reading, teaching poor and downtrodden women, children and men to read through the distrubution of books was in the background but it also powerful to observe. These women on their riding rounds also comforted the sick, grieving and took on the role of friends, confidantes and substitute mother figures. I didn’t expect this book to be unputdownable, but it was as Moyes made the mundane work of Alice, Margery, Izzy and Beth’s lives totally readable and absorbing. Alice was the main protagonist, an English newly-wed, a little prissy but a genuinely sweet woman. The life she found in Kentucky was not at all what she expected and I tore my hair out over her and Bennett’s relationship. There were some revolting men in this book but then there were also some fantastic characters in Fred and Sven, they were the light in my reading and this book. There was a second supporting protagonist in Margery and she really captured my heart. I loved her rebelliousness, her unconventional ways and willingness to be different. Her later storyline had me distraught, sad and prone to weeping. I just did not know where this book was going to end, there were so many possibilities. I have come away from this read inspired. Jojo Moyes took me on a journey with this story and I am all the richer for it. This is historical women’s fiction at it’s best and I will remember this book for years, I am sure. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the review copy. This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities here.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Doherty

    If I could give 10 stars, that still wouldn't be enough~ Incredible unexplored history meets well honed characters you become fully devoted to~ plus throughout the story Moyes weaves incredible literary passages, newspaper or journal snippets, which helps illustrate the journey the characters are living with beguiling clarity. For fans of the unyielding frontier heroism, for readers of layered history, and incredible character growth and connection - as well as those who adore and/or have never If I could give 10 stars, that still wouldn't be enough~ Incredible unexplored history meets well honed characters you become fully devoted to~ plus throughout the story Moyes weaves incredible literary passages, newspaper or journal snippets, which helps illustrate the journey the characters are living with beguiling clarity. For fans of the unyielding frontier heroism, for readers of layered history, and incredible character growth and connection - as well as those who adore and/or have never read Jojo Moyes before! I could make this a 4 page review but instead I hope you read and love it too! Galley borrowed from the publisher.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Corina

    Honestly, I had the easiest time giving this book the 5 stars it deserves, and I rarely give them out, but the combination of writing, the many strong female characters and the historical background made this book one of the most amazing books I read this year. Just stunning, from beginning to end. I loved that the book was more than just about Alice Wright. It was about Alice but also about Margery O’Hare, about Sophia, Kathleen and Beth and Izzy. All these women, took part in a movement, an Honestly, I had the easiest time giving this book the 5 stars it deserves, and I rarely give them out, but the combination of writing, the many strong female characters and the historical background made this book one of the most amazing books I read this year. Just stunning, from beginning to end. I loved that the book was more than just about Alice Wright. It was about Alice but also about Margery O’Hare, about Sophia, Kathleen and Beth and Izzy. All these women, took part in a movement, an organization that brought hope and happiness to a mountain region that could be harsh, and was definitely poor. Knowing that the WPA’s (Works Progress Administration) Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky really existed made this book extra special. But besides all that, the way all these lives intersected, and the way the plot was written touched my heart and elevated this story to one of the best reading experiences of 2019. I was enchanted, enthralled, and fascinated by their lives, by everyone these ladies encountered, how much love and friendship they found in each other, and how gutsy they all were. I’m happy to say that the book was a feel good novel to the very end. It was easy to fall in love with the story, and its characters. And even better it kept its heart warming message to the very end. HEA all around. An absolute MUST READ for anyone that enjoys a well written story, and in this case a historical fiction novel that’s based on real events. Oh, and the narration was superb. Julia Whelan is an exceptional narrator, and after checking Audible I realized I've listened to quite a few of her books.

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