My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 388
Publisher - Penguin
Source - Review copy
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
Is it no secret I love Moyes ability to tell stories, I have read all of her books (I think) and not met one I didn't like. Set in Kentucky America, money is tight, women's priorities is the husband, home and of course knowing their place. Alice has come from England to marry her beloved Benedict, thinking she is leaving one dull existence to an exciting new one in America. Not realising she is trading like for like and bound to be disappointed. Benedict lives in his overbearing fathers shadow, the family have money and Alice better know her place. Margery is one of the most outspoken in the town, not loved and has a dodgy family history. Margery with the help of Alice and a small band of ladies are helping families with books, magazines and reading materials. The mobile library will be a godsend to some and an aberration to others, leading to an incident that will change everything for them all.
Based around a true story, the Packhorse librarians where something I had never heard of and absolutely love. A band of women, travelling around their community, up the hills, to get reading materials to families, connecting a community in ways no one would have foresaw.
It is a tale of friendship, love, abuse, greed with a mix of racism, misogyny, human endangerment with the focus on making money even if it costs humans life or limb. A mixed bag, some scenes uncomfortable, because of the era women were felt to know their place and we have some plucky characters in the book and who doesn't love a strong woman or two. Loved Moyes books and this one was no different, 4.5/5 for me, very much looking forward to the next and I will be looking into the history of the Packhorse Librarians.
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