The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is a historical fiction novel which takes place in Kentucky hill country during the 1930’s when the WPA organization sought to promote literacy among the poor with Pack Horse Library Project.
I found the subject matter of this novel fascinating because it was news to me. Also, because as many of my readers know, I am the steward of a Little Free Library. Widespread distribution of books during the Great Depression – how could I not be interested in learning more about that endeavor?
In this novel, the main character is a young British woman named Alice who marries a wealthy Kentucky American who turns out to be a huge disappointment in many ways. Her father-in-law is a brute who sleeps in the bedroom next to the newly married couple. Feeling like a fish out of water, upon hearing volunteers are needed to deliver books and magazines to the poor people scattered across the nearby mountains, Alice jumps at the chance to escape her oppressive home life. The experience changes her perspective on life in a positive way. However, it doesn’t change her marriage for the better.
The novel contains several plot lines which include child abuse, poverty, and a murder mystery. Although I enjoyed the story, I closed the last page feeling as if I’d been cheated. I have pondered the reason behind my disappointment, but can’t put my finger on it! Perhaps it has something to do with the many characters and side tracks. I wished for more information about the project and less about sexual frustration in the mountains in Kentucky during the depression. That distracted from the story which I believed was to be about books. My expectations were too high.
As is often said, you can’t win them all! The link provided below offers some further interesting facts about this novel, another written on the same topic, and the Pack Horse Library Project.
Please note I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.