This is the January pick of my local library book club, that I was a regular participant of pre-covid. During the pandemic times, I have attended only one book club because Zoom book club for me doesn’t give me the same jollies. I read the book, the meeting is this week, will I attend? Only time will tell.
The cover of this book had me arching an eyebrow and assuming it was “not for me” in that it looked more like a summer beach read, which I like, but wasn’t really in the humor for. The adage about judging book covers is a good one, and I was actually pretty intrigued at the beginning of this book to learn about this history of book women in the 1930s in Kentucky and the REAL LIFE blue people that also lived there, blue due to a genetic abnormality, but YOU try explaining a genetic abnormality to those in rural Kentucky in the 30s, not to mention, um, they didn’t know at the beginning of the book that it was a genetic abnormality and so “the blues” were lumped in with the other coloreds of the small mining village.
I don’t know if it’s just because the cover was so jolly or what, but I found this book to be jarring and uneven, and not at all what I expected from the beginning.. And yes, the book opens with a hanging, so obviously it’s not going to be sunshine and roses, but I felt like I saw the heroine pushed to the point of almost being tortured by the injustices of her existence. I thought some characters were very thin, and others were very well explained, but then made choices that didn’t align with what it seemed their character would do.
I think she went over-the-top at the end and made a couple of bizarre plot choices as THE BIG CLIMAX seemed shoe-horned and even cruel, which tonally didn’t make sense with the rest of the book. The first 3/4 was very slow, to the point of plodding, and deliberate, so for the last act to bring about like three zany twists was much.
I’m glad to have learned the real history of the blue people in Kentucky, and the book women of the WPA but think the story could have been told more succinctly, and in a less heavy-handed book.