The Giver of Stars: A Novel. Jojo Moyes. Penguin Publishing Group. October 2019. pb, 400 pp.; ISBN #: 9780399562488.
Kentucky in the Appalachian Mountains is a gorgeous gem of nature. However, during the Depression years, families suffered from poor mining conditions and they were hamstrung by ignorance. However, Eleanor Roosevelt began the project of traveling libraries, and this novel is about the five women known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky. Initially, they are composed of a motley crew of women.
Meet Alice Van Cleve, an English woman who married Bennet Van Cleve so that she would escape the stifling existence of British life and wound up strangled from the worse situation she was living in, with her father-in-law cruelly stifling her husband’s romantic expression. Then meet Margery, a single woman with a hugely independent streak, who always did the right thing and couldn’t care less what anybody else thought about it. She was loved by a young man but wouldn’t marry him because she wanted to maintain that independent status. Then there is a gal with a physical injury who thought she had nothing to give life but turned out to have a gorgeous voice. And meet Sophie, an African-American woman who has all the skills of a professional librarian; nothing will stop her although the racists of the area certainly have their say to try to stifle her presence.
You will find people falling in love with fairy tales, comics, romances, adventure stories, Bible stories and even a book about romantic sex. Little by little the rural readers are reading and passing along more books than the Packhorse Librarians can handle. Others begin to help them.
Two marriages will fall apart, two new marriages will eventually happen, a woman will be physically battered, a woman will be charged with murder, and a family is disgraced for their brutal treatment of miners and their families.
This is a gorgeous, lovely novel readers will love! It covers just about every form of virtue and vice, beauty and ugliness, defeat and victory that the imagination can consider. It’s about victory, friendship, loyalty, honesty, truth and love in the worst of circumstances! It’s joy-full. Highly recommended historical fiction!