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The Giver of Stars
Cover of The Giver of Stars
The Giver of Stars
A Novel
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICKUSA Today's top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing "I've been a huge Jojo Moyes fan. Her characters...
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICKUSA Today's top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing "I've been a huge Jojo Moyes fan. Her characters...
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  • #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK
    USA Today's top 100 books to read while stuck at home social distancing

    "I've been a huge Jojo Moyes fan. Her characters are so compelling. . . It's such a great narrative about personal strength and really captures how books bring communities together." –Reese Witherspoon
    From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

    Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
    The leader, and soon Alice's greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who's never asked a man's permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
    What happens to them—and to the men they love—becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they're committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
    Based on a true story rooted in America's past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic—a richly rewarding novel of women's friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.
    SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!

Excerpts-

  • From the book One

    Three months earlier

    It was, everyone agreed, fanning themselves outside the store or passing in the shade of the eucalyptus trees, unseasonably warm for September. The meeting hall at Baileyville was thick with the smells of lye soap and stale perfume, bodies wedged together in good poplin dresses and summer suits. The heat had permeated even the clapboard walls so that the wood creaked and sighed in protest. Pressed tight behind Bennett as he shuffled his way along the row of packed seats, apologizing as each person rose from their chair with a barely suppressed sigh, Alice swore that she felt the warmth of each body leach into her own as it leaned backward to let them pass.

    So sorry. So sorry.

    Bennett finally reached two empty seats and Alice, her cheeks glowing with embarrassment, sat down, ignoring the sideways glances of the people around them. Bennett looked down at his lapel, brushing at non-existent lint, then spotted her skirt. "You didn't change?" he murmured.

    "You said we were late."

    "I didn't mean for you to come out with your house clothes on."

    She had been trying to make cottage pie, to encourage Annie to put something other than Southern food on the table. But the potatoes had gone green, she hadn't been able to gauge the heat of the range, and the grease had spattered all over her when she dropped the meat onto the griddle. And when Bennett came in looking for her (she had, of course, lost track of time) he could not for the life of him see why she wouldn't just leave culinary matters to the housekeeper when an important meeting was about to take place.

    Alice placed her hand over the largest grease mark on her skirt and resolved to keep it there for the next hour. Because it would be an hour. Or two. Or-Lord help her-three.

    Church and meetings. Meetings and church. Sometimes Alice Van Cleve felt as if she had merely swapped one tedious daily pastime for another. That very morning in church Pastor McIntosh had spent almost two hours declaiming the sinners who were apparently plotting ungodly dominance around the little town, and was now fanning himself and looking disturbingly ready to speak again.

    "Put your shoes back on," Bennett murmured. "Someone might see you."

    "It's this heat," she said. "They're English feet. They're not used to these temperatures." She felt, rather than saw, her husband's weary disapproval. But she was too hot and tired to care, and the speaker's voice had a narcoleptic quality so that she caught only every third word or so-germinating . . . pods . . . chaff . . . paper bags-and found it hard to care much about the rest.

    Married life, she had been told, would be an adventure. Travel to a new land! She had married an American, after all. New food! A new culture! New experiences! She had pictured herself in New York, neat in a two-piece suit in bustling restaurants and on crowded sidewalks. She would write home, boasting of her new experiences. Oh, Alice Wright? Wasn't she the one who married the gorgeous American? Yes, I had a postcard from her-she was at the Metropolitan Opera, or Carnegie Hall . . .

    Nobody had warned that it would involve so much small-talk over good china with elderly aunts, so much pointless mending and quilting or, even worse, so many deathly dull sermons. Endless, decades-long sermons and meetings. Oh, but these men did love the sound of their own voices! She felt as if she were being scolded for hours, four times a week.

    The Van Cleves had stopped at no fewer than thirteen churches on their way back here, and the only sermon that Alice enjoyed had taken place in Charleston, where the preacher had gone on so long...

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2019

    The top-selling Moyes goes historical in a Depression-set story featuring Horseback Librarians of Kentucky. Alice Wright leaves stuffy England to marry charming American Bennett Van Cleve but finds her life not a whole lot happier. Getting involved with the Horseback Librarians, a program promoted by Eleanor Roosevelt, brings her purpose and friendship.

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 1, 2019
    Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them. Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She's just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library--an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library's leader, Margery. Margery doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn't believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn't care for Alice's job or Margery's lifestyle, and he'll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together. A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 5, 2019
    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.).

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2019
    When Alice marries the charming, athletic Bennett Van Cleve, she imagines bustling city life in America, so unlike her staid English existence. But when she gets to Baileyville, Kentucky, she finds her peers are suspicious and gossipy, her house is a shrine to Bennett's late mother, and her father-in-law sleeps in the room next door. Desperate and lonely, she surprises herself by volunteering to help with the new Baileyville Packhorse Library, run by the indomitable Margery O'Hare, who has an unsavory reputation as a moonshiner's daughter, though no one dares say it to her face. Of course, spreading education and information, especially to the womenfolk, threatens the man who runs the coal mine?Alice's father-in-law. Readers familiar with Moyes' very British narrative voice will be thrilled that she translates seamlessly into Appalachian, and she weaves a tough sort of protofeminism in with labor unrest and romance in this story that doesn't stereotype but lifts up the work of the women who run the library and the lives they impact. There are tears and laughter in this homage to the power of reading and the strength of community.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Moyes is a must-read for women's fiction fans, and her newest historical tale is already in development with Universal Pictures.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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