The undeniable warmth that permeates Kim Michele Richardson’s fiction is rooted in a love for her home state of Kentucky, her characters and, it seems, the art of writing itself. Her narratives are immersive exercises in character development and world building that are wholly capable of enveloping readers, pulling us deeper with each page until we are happily lost.
The Book Woman’s Daughter, Richardson’s companion novel to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, does this from the very beginning, whether you’ve read the original novel or not. Through the eyes of Honey Lovett, daughter of legendary blue-skinned “Book Woman” Cussy Mary Carter, Richardson tells a rewarding story of determination and hope set in the Kentucky woods of a bygone era.
In 1953, Honey’s mother and father are imprisoned for miscegenation, and the 16-year-old girl is left to scrape by on her own, running from the law while attempting to build a life for herself with the few resources she has left. She and her trusty mule, Junia, take up Cussy’s former route as a packhorse librarian, and in doing so, Honey not only honors her mother’s legacy but also begins to carve a path for herself through a world that continually pushes women aside. Honey discovers that her community’s thirst for knowledge is vast, often dangerous and full of big questions she’d never expected to ask.
Throughout The Book Woman’s Daughter, Richardson pushes Honey forward into new states of evolution, desire, grit and spirit while constructing a beautiful vision of 1950s Appalachia in all its natural splendor and complicated humanity. Honey starts out as someone who knows where she belongs, but as she begins to encounter setbacks and challenges, her story transforms into a meditation on womanhood, literature, resilience and freedom. It’s a spellbinding tale.