Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love anything written by Jojo Moyes. So I was excited to get my hands on her latest release The Giver Of Stars. I pretty much devoured this historical fiction book set in 1930s Kentucky in a day. I just couldn’t put it down!
Set in Baileyville, Kentucky, during the Depression, it tells the story of a remarkable group of women who form part of the WPA’s horseback mobile librarian programme – bringing books and reading to people living in remote mountain areas.
Though the characters in this book are fictional, they are inspired by the real life women who took part in this scheme which ran from 1935 to 1943. Jojo weaves a fascinating tale of a small community where many welcome the spread of books and reading, while others oppose the idea of women promoting literacy.
Alice is an Englishwoman who meets her handsome husband, Bennett, in England and impulsively marries him. She comes to live with him and his domineering father, a wealthy mine owner, in a town where she feels likes an outsider. Desperately unhappy in her new marriage, Alice heeds the call for women to work as horse riding librarians.
Margery is the trouser wearing, plain talking daughter of a now dead felon. With her family all gone, she’s content living life on her own terms and doing what she pleases. A lover of books and being out in the wilderness, she’s only too happy to lead the group of local Pack Horse Librarians.
Along for the ride is Beth a smoking, swearing tomboy with many brothers. Izzy, daughter of the library’s local patron, who wears a leg brace after a bout of polio. And Sophia, an African American librarian who must keep her involvement secret from some racist townsfolk.
There’s so much good stuff going on in this book. I don’t want to give away spoilers because you really need to read it yourself. But there’s adventure, romance, adversity to overcome, a great villain, friendship, intrigue, sisterhood and a nail-biting court case all set in a beautiful but harsh location. I loved the mention of classic books throughout. Little Women is quoted and I have to say the bond the women in The Giver of Stars form reminded me a bit of the sisters from Little Women.
There were bits that made me teary and other bits that made me angry – the writing was just great at provoking all my emotions. I was thoroughly entertained the whole way through this book. This is one of Jojo Moyes’ best books that I’ve read to date.
Verdict: I rate this book all the stars. It was such a wonderful read.
Please note: There is a bit of controversy about The Giver of Stars being very similar to another author’s book on the same subject. Buzzfeed wrote an article about it here. I can’t really comment without having read the other book but I’d like to think that an author of Jojo Moyes calibre wouldn’t intentionally copy someone else’s work. I feel like there’s just a few coincidences given that both books are on the same subject matter. But I thought I would include this information to inform my blog readers.