Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 400 pages

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction, Romance

Synopsis: 

England, late 1930s, and Alice Wright — restless, stifled — makes an impulsive decision to marry wealthy American Bennett Van Cleve and leave her home and family behind.

But stuffy, disapproving Baileyville, Kentucky, where her husband favours work over his wife and is dominated by his overbearing father, is not the adventure — or the escape — that she hoped for.

That is, until she meets Margery O’Hare, a troublesome woman — and daughter of a notorious felon — the town wishes to forget.

Margery’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 the town turns against them, will their belief in one another — and the power of the written word — be enough to save them?

Inspired by a remarkable true story, The Giver of Stars features five incredible women who will prove to be every bit as beloved as Lou Clark, the unforgettable heroine of Me Before You .


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When Alice Wright marries American Bennett Van Cleve, she hopes it is a way to escape her stifling life in England. However, married life in a small Kentucky town is just as confined, especially living with her overbearing father-in-law. So, Alice jumps at the opportunity to be part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s travelling library. From there, Alice meets the leader, and her strongest ally, Margaret and with three other women they being a journey of love and self-discovery while being dedicated to their job: bringing books and the gift of learning to those who never had it.

Jojo Moyes has done it again! Moyes has spun a tale that not only informs but warms your heart and leaves you with characters that stay with you always. A story, while historical, has timely themes and realistic elements that make this could make the story more contemporary than it is initially perceived. While reading this, I have never felt so enchanted and inspired by a novel in a long time. If you are in a reading slump like I was before I started reading this book, this novel is the ideal story that will take you right out of it.

The female character portrayed is a diverse group of women with their unconventional lifestyles and complex personalities made them leap off the pages. These women, particularly Margery and Alice, convey the determination and resilience that you love to see in female characters. It also allowed me to form a connection with them. Their adventurous and defiant spirit allowed them to face challenges that crossed their path, challenges that any reader could relate to. Discrimination, misogyny, abuse, both emotional and physical were just some of the trials these amazing women faced. But because of their endurance, these female characters were more approachable and practical to the story.

The book came alive with its vigorous writing and thrilling storytelling. But that could not happen without Moyes’ rich depictions and well thought out world building was only achieved through Moyes’ research of the Depression Era. I felt that I was really there in Kentucky and that only came true due to Moyes’ clear passion and vigour in telling this untold story of this era. Moyes brings a story that is completely different from what she usually writes but this whole new direction showed her talent and side that readers never knew that Moyes had before. Another benefit? This is a book that celebrates libraries and reading. At a book signing, Moyes said that this book is her gift to librarians and it portrays that. It touched me when the characters wanted to spread learning to those who need it the most and I wish that passion for reading and encouragement for learning existed today. Because of this book, I want to learn more about the Pack Horse Library Project, a project that I didn’t know existed, a program that I think this country needs again.

The Giver of Stars not only tells an amazing fictional story about a real-life library project that rose up during a depressing time. It is a joyful celebration of reading and a delightful novel that will warm your heart and inspire the deepest part of your soul. This is by far Jojo Moyes’ best novel to date.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Get it At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository|IndieBound| Your local library

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