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The giver of stars
2019
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Library Journal Review
Moyes's 16th book (after Still Me) takes place in Depression-era Kentucky, where bride Alice Wright is trying to fit in. This is not how she imagined her glamorous American life when she left her native England. Her new husband, Bennett Van Cleve, is ruled by his overbearing father, and even the family housekeeper views her with suspicion. When a local woman asks for volunteers for the WPA Packhorse Library, Alice steps forward, despite the objections of her father-in-law and husband. From Marge, the fiercely independent and unconventional woman who runs the library, to Sophia, who left the Louisville "colored" library to care for her brother, the story of these packhorse librarians unfolds as they bring books to the people living in poverty in the Appalachian hills and fight the prejudice against women and African Americans that may result in the library being closed. A murder and unrest among the coal miners add to a tale of a fascinating and difficult time. VERDICT Rich in history, with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place, this book will fit well in any library's fiction collection. For fans of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants or Catherine Marshall's Christy. [See Prepub Alert, 4/15/19; "Fall Fireworks," LJ 8/19.]--Terry Lucas, Shelter Island P.L., NY
Publishers Weekly Review
An adventure story grounded in female competence and mutual support, and an obvious affection for the popular literature of the early 20th century, give this Depression-era novel plenty of appeal. Alice Wright escapes her stifling English family by marrying an American, but this choice leads to further misery in the rural Kentucky household of her unaffectionate husband and his domineering father, the owner of the local coal mine. She finds respite in riding with the women of the new WPA-sponsored horseback library. She's sustained by her friendships with the other women, especially the brash, self-sufficient Margery O'Hare, and the appreciation of the isolated families she serves. But powerful men in Baileyville oppose the library, as it employs a black woman, influences women and children's minds with fiction, encourages previously illiterate families to defend their rights against encroaching mining companies, and teaches women about intimacy through a secret copy of Married Love. Moyes (Still Me) stereotypes her antagonists a bit, but provides tremendous warmth among the librarians and centers their perspectives thoroughly. There's plenty of drama, but the reader's lasting impression is one of love. Agent: Sheila Crowley, Curtis Brown (U.K.). (Oct.)
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