“Life is complicated. Which is why finding a little joy where you can is important.”
Published in 2020, The Giver Of Stars by Jojo Moyes is set in the late 1930s in Baileyville, Kentucky, where English-born Alice Wright makes an impulsive decision to marry wealthy American Bennett Van Cleve and leave her home and family behind. She hopes for an exciting new life but soon finds herself faced with a disapproving husband who favours work over his wife and who is dominated by his overbearing father. It’s not the adventure – or the escape – that she hoped for. That is until she meets Margery O’Hare, who’s on a mission to spread the wonder of books and reading to the poor and lost – and she needs Alice’s help. Trekking alone under big open skies, through wild mountain forests, Alice, Margery and their fellow sisters of the trail discover freedom, friendship – and a life to call their own. But when Baileyville turns against them, will their belief in one another – and the power of the written word – be enough to save them?
Rich in lush descriptions and the warmth of friendships and love, this historical fiction is a beautifully detailed and compelling story about the power of community and the need for literature to educate people of all ages.
It took me a while to get into, but I soon felt like one of the group as we get to spend some time bonding with the five women and getting to know them more in-depth. The characters are well developed which is what draws you in so deeply, as you come to really care for Alice and Margery and the troubles they find themselves in.
Inspired by a remarkable true story of the packhorse library, I didn’t expect this to be such an insightful book but I found it really interesting to learn about. I wasn’t completely invested so I didn’t love this book as much as I know many others do, but I did enjoy the lesson in history, the comfort of its charming characters, and the beautiful narrative by Moyes.
The Giver Of Stars is a brilliant piece of contemporary women’s fiction and is definitely a book that I would recommend.