Book Review on JoJo Moyes' The Giver of Stars
Set in the Appalachian Mountains, Alice Wright leaves behind the humdrum of small town life in England by marrying handsome Bennet Van Cleve and moving to Baileyville, Kentucky. Life is quick to disappoint, and Alice seems as trapped as she'd ever been.
Bennett seems content to share their honeymoon cabin, with his ever-present vile father, and once at home becomes distant and aloof, unable or unchoosing of intimacy. The 'special book' kept hidden in the library had no effect in solving Bennett's problems!
Upon arrival in Baileyville, Alice is treated with caution and suspicion by the locals; women her own age feel she has stolen Bennett from them as a potential suitor. There's no wonder then, that Alice jumps at the chance to join Margery O'Hare, a strong, independent woman, as a travelling librarian. This gives Bennett's father further fuel to disapprove of Alice as Margery, Alice learns, is of a disreputable family going back generations. In addition, Margery is unwilling to conform to societal expectations or to be the expected submissive female and wife. The judgemental Van Cleve's are inevitably going to disapprove.
An unlikely friendship is formed between Alice and Margery. As the events of the story unfold they learn to support each other and women across Kentucky. Sisterhood prevails as the librarians grow in numbers, strength and commitment to their role, each another and their values.
The novel begins with a single chapter outlining a key event that occurs three months from the beginning of the story proper. It is this event around which the whole story, The Giver of Stars, is based as we explore weath, class, hardship, abuse and feminism.
Hefty themes are presented with the lightest of touches, Marriage, abuse and of course romance! The story is funny yet sad; full of warmth whilst exposing cruelty. Above all it is a great page-turner.
Book Club Questions on JoJo Moyes' The Giver of Stars
Book Club Questions on JoJo Moyes' The Giver of Stars (If you haven't read the book!)
The Giver of Stars
Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.
Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.
Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
Personal Response to JoJo Moyes' The Giver of Stars
particularly enjoyed The Giver of Stars because, for many years, I was a librarian and continue to work as a library consultant. It is a book that I'd definitely like to add to my collection of first editions. I'm ever optimistic that my husband might go hunting on Amazon / Abebooks / whatever and decide to treat me to some more scrumptious books!
The idea of taking to the trails and making a difference to people's lives struck me as so romantic! Of course, being faced with an aggressive drunk a little less so! I had to smile though that it was the book Little Women that was presented as a murder weapon! Less of the little! You can't go far wrong with JoJo Moyes if you want some escapism and a well-written book. I've no doubt that if E. Roosevelt was here today, she would be proud of this fictionalized of her real-life introduction of Packhorse librarians.