Ill-suited to the stultifying environment and prospects of England, Alice jumps at the chance to escape to America by marrying Bennet, the wealthy, handsome son of a coal-mine owner. However, soon after arriving in Bennet’s small town in Depression-era Kentucky, Alice realizes that problems in her marriage, a controlling father-in-law and small-town gossip are equally suffocating.
When Eleanor Roosevelt creates a mobile library system as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, Alice volunteers to become one of the librarians on horseback to escape her father-in-law’s house. As a librarian, Alice joins four others: unconventional Margery, who lives by her own rules; boisterous Beth, who has eight brothers; Izzy, the library organizer’s pampered daughter, who wears a leg brace and has a beautiful voice; and Sophia, a black woman who risks backlash to work for the mobile library, in violation of the state’s segregation laws.
Together, these women and their horses face hardship and danger to bring books and information to the poverty-stricken backwoods of Kentucky. In return, they find companionship and fulfillment. The library’s future is threatened, however, when Margery and Alice step too far outside the accepted norms of society, angering the powerful patriarchy of the town.
Jojo Moyes, bestselling author of Me Before You, has written a wonderful novel based on the real-life Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky. Moyes’ research is evident, as her writing completely immerses readers in the world of a small, Depression-era coal-mining town—the class structure, the ignorance and the violence, as well as the overwhelming beauty of the surroundings and the strength of character required to survive. Moyes has written unforgettable characters who come alive on the page. All five women, but especially Alice and Margery, are written with such depth that readers may wish they, too, could join this tight circle of remarkable women.
A heartwarming page turner, The Giver of Stars is certain to be Moyes’ next bestseller and should not be missed.