The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is a charming novel set in the deep woods of Kentucky during the depression-era 1930s. It follows the lives of a group of women who run the packhorse library in Baileyville, a very conservative mining town.
One of the primary characters is the British Alice Van Cleve, a newly-wed who married an American she met when he was traveling in Europe with his father. Alice believed she would be living a cosmopolitan American life with her handsome husband. Instead, her husband takes her to a rural mining town, where they live with his domineering and abusive father. Alice finds herself in a loveless marriage and is happy to volunteer for the newly formed packhorse library. The work is demanding with long hours carrying books in all sorts of weather through dangerous terrain. The other main character is Margery O’Hare, a fiercely independent woman, who becomes the object of hatred from Alice’s father-in-law. She lives with the prejudice the townspeople have against her because her deceased father was a no-good moonshiner.
The other characters include a black librarian, a handicapped librarian with a beautiful voice, a widowed mother, and other women who are able to show their strength and resolve in a world that is domineered by self-righteous men and small-minded townspeople. It is a moving story about female friendship and the joy the packhorse librarians find in sharing the love of books. The book has plenty of action including a dangerous flood and a murder trial.
I am a fan of Jojo Moyes. This book did not disappoint. 5-Stars. Book club recommended. I listened to the Audible audiobook read by Julia Whelan. It was excellent.