I had skipped Jojo Moyes’ previous outings and did not immediately recognize the author without her telltale font when I selected this for my Book of the Month club pick. The Giver of Stars is about the Kentucky pack horse librarians who, through a grant during the Great Depression, brought books and reading materials to the more isolated regions of eastern Kentucky. The story centers on Alice, an Englishwoman who is wooed by a Kentuckian abroad and brought back to live with him and his abominable father in the bluegrass state. Life there is not what she anticipated and she channels all her loneliness and frustration into the lending library, discovering her own powerful relationship with the beautiful state (as well as her fellow librarians) along the way.
There is apparently a bit of plagiarism controversy kicking around, citing the similarities of plot details between this book and another (The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek). Having read only the one, I cannot comment on it except to say that I read a theory and believe I understand how this sort of thing might happen. This is a feel-good kind of book, and a topic that bibliophiles eat up (changing hearts and minds with literature!) so it’s understandable why two authors–and their publishers–might pursue such a topic. That seems to be the conclusion that others have reached and so I feel comfortable in recommending TGOS and have not ruled out reading the other novel, given how much I enjoyed the subject matter.
There is a satisfying predictability in The Giver of Stars, which does not detract from the reading experience. If someone is curt with our heroines, you can only hope that they will soften with time, and I experienced true pleasure and emotion when they inevitably did. I would recommend this as cozy, light read–especially to someone who has recently delved into heavier reading material beforehand and is looking for a win.