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The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Historical fiction

The Giver of Stars

Repeat author

Jojo Moyes is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Someone Else’s Shoes and Still Me.

by Jojo Moyes

Excellent choice

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Quick take

From the author of Still Me, a nod to the strong af women who ran a traveling library in 1930s rural Kentucky.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_ForbiddenLove

    Forbidden love

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Rural_update

    Rural

Synopsis

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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Giver of Stars.
The Giver of Stars

Prologue

December 20, 1937

Listen. Three miles deep in the forest just below Arnott’s Ridge, and you’re in silence so dense it’s like you’re wading through it. There’s no birdsong past dawn, not even in high summer, and especially not now, with the chill air so thick with moisture that it stills those few leaves clinging gamely to the branches. Among the oak and hickory nothing stirs: wild animals are deep underground, soft pelts intertwined in narrow caves or hollowed-?­out trunks. The snow is so deep the mule’s legs disappear up to his hocks, and every few strides he staggers and snorts suspiciously, checking for loose flints and holes under the endless white. Only the narrow creek below moves confidently, its clear water murmuring and bubbling over the stony bed, headed down toward an endpoint nobody around here has ever seen.

Margery O’Hare tests her toes inside her boots, but feeling went a long time back and she winces at the thought of how they’re going to hurt when they warm up again. Three pairs of wool stockings, and in this weather you might as well go bare-?­legged. She strokes the big mule’s neck, brushing off the crystals forming on his dense coat with her heavy men’s gloves.

“Extra food for you tonight, Charley boy,” she says, and watches as his huge ears flick back. She shifts, adjusting the saddlebags, making sure the mule is balanced as they pick their way down toward the creek. “Hot molasses in your supper. Might even have some myself.”

Four more miles, she thinks, wishing she had eaten more breakfast. Past the Indian escarpment, up the yellow pine track, two more hollers, and old Nancy will appear, singing hymns as she always does, her clear, strong voice echoing through the forest as she walks, arms swinging like a child’s, to meet her.

“You don’t have to walk five miles to meet me,” she tells the woman, every fortnight. “That’s our job. That’s why we’re on horseback.”

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (20,407)

  • Emily C.

    Lehi, UT

    It was both funny and terribly sad. I felt though that the sad parts had a redeeming outcome and I like books that get tied up neatly. Also the characters were relatable even though it was the 30's & I'veneverbeentoKentucky

  • Colleen C.

    Fort Collins, CO

    Atmospheric—well-paced—power of books/knowledge—strong female friendships/community—horseback journeys—justice vs truth—believable romance—stranger in a strange land—strong dynamic characters—hist fic

  • Kelly M.

    Santee, CA

    This novel is an incredible read. I absolutely fell in love with the characters, the scenery of Kentucky, and all that was woven in between. This story will sit with me for a long time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Shawnia G.

    Prophetstown, IL

    This was recommended to me by someone my mom knows. I don’t even know the guys name……….it came on BOTM so I got it. I loved this book so much!!!!!! Didn’t take me long to read it!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Alyssa O.

    Bolivar, MO

    This book is such a gem! I wish I had read this sooner. I laughed, cried, and worried right alongside the packhorse librarians of Baileyville, KY. Beautifully written and will leave you uplifted ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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