From the author of Still Me, a nod to the strong af women who ran a traveling library in 1930s rural Kentucky.
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My mother was the first to introduce me to the wonder and escape to be found in books. As a young immigrant in a new country with four kids in tow, my mom found the beginnings of a new life for us in the dog-eared pages of books, and taught us to find adventure and intrigue, romance and wisdom in stories as well. These were the memories that beckoned me to the world of Jojo Moyes’s latest, The Giver of Stars.
At its heart, this novel is about all the many ways books can change lives. Based on a true story, Moyes weaves a poignant tale about the real women who brought the written word to the downtrodden and forgotten people of rural Kentucky during the Great Depression. Alice Wright is a newcomer to this landscape—a young Brit. She’s married to a handsome young American whose life in the South isn’t nearly as picturesque as he depicted while they were dating. Searching for friendship leads her to Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library, a public works project helmed by female volunteers who begin to transform the community by delivering books to neighbors near and far.
Both lyrical and poetic, this moving story is about the power that books can have to tear down the barriers of class and misogyny to bring purpose, joy, and a sense of belonging to a forlorn and forgotten rural community. It’s also a story about friendship and sacrifice, justice and compassion, and a compelling homage to books that is not to be missed.
Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them—and to the men they love—becomes a classic drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. Though they face all kinds of dangers, they’re committed to their job—bringing books to people who have never had any, sharing the gift of learning that will change their lives.
The Giver of Stars is also the November pick for Marie Claire’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC: a space for women who love books—by women!—and love talking about them, but prefer to do so from the comfort of their couch. Share your review of the book using the hashtag #ReadWithMC by November 28 for a chance to be featured on MarieClaire.com.