#bookreview The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes published by Penguin UK – Michael Joseph


‘Alice had come halfway across the world to find that, yet again, she was considered wanting. Well, she thought, if that was what everyone thought, she might as well live up to it.’

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 – daughter of a notorious felon and a troublesome woman 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 Baileyville 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.

My reading experience:

Firstly I would like to thank the author, Michael Joseph publishers and Netgalley for my free ARC.

The letter to the Reader at the opening of this tale gave me goosebumps. I felt so excited to start reading but not to gallop through it, I wanted to give all the author’s hard research some air, some space and time to sit with me, and for me to be able to absorb the way she had put the words together …

Margery O’Hare is flinty. She is fiercely independent, unyielding in her determination to bring book learning to the mountain folk of Eastern Kentucky, and passionate about her liberty. She is also generous of heart, a friend indeed and a confidante. With these qualities she brings together a group of women librarians that are searching for something that is missing in their own lives, and they find it delivering books to their mountain community. Alice finds her uniqueness, her confidence and self esteem, Beth finds a kinship, Izzy finds a life unlocked from her disability and Sophie regains her independence and purpose. Strong, dedicated and tenacious, they go with grace to the people who delight in the books they bring to a new life.

This is such an overwhelmingly compelling read that I can’t do more than recommend you embrace it whole heartedly. It is not saccharine but instead you will find characters who have substance and shine, and a world that is rugged in terrain, and robust in its traditions and values.

Moyes has this habit of making her characters your friend, your neighbour, your sister …, and as the reader you have all those feelings of frustration, confusion, compassion and love towards them*

Do not miss this one. This story is one that will stay with you and shape your ongoing days.

* The Giver of Stars by Amy Lowell c.1914

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.


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