The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes – Audiobook review.

The Giver of Stars


While I’m still having difficulty concentrating on reading I’ve been trying audio books. I have to admit my experience of these in the past has been hit and miss because I either fall asleep or find it becomes like background noise and I don’t take anything in.

The Giver of Stars has just proved the exception. I loved the narrator and found I was hooked very quickly. It’s a story that drew me in and had me actually trying to find time to listen as I needed to know what happened next. Miraculously given the length of the book (nearly 14 hours) I achieved this in less than a week (which didn’t include bedtime)

The book tells the story of the women who set up a Pack Horse Library in the town of Baileyville, Kentucky. While the tale it tells may be fictional, it takes as its source the very real Pack Horse Library Project.  The project formed part of the WPA (Works Progess Administration) programme. Championed by Eleanor Roosevelt it delivered books to remote regions in the Appalachian Mountains between 1935 and 1943. Women were very involved in the project which eventually had 30 different libraries serving 100,000 people. It is said that the project helped employ around 200 people and reached around 100,000 residents in rural Kentucky, one of the poorest areas of America.

The story which has the library as its focus has a much wider remit though, shining a light on the social, political and economic conditions of the day. In a post depression, pre war era the setting of rural Kentucky heightened the issues of a women’s place in society; the lack of health and safety, or employment rights legislation and the open hostility to black members of the community. While technically a neutral state during the Civil War it practiced segregation similar to the Jim Crow laws.

It’s story that that makes you realise how far we’ve (hopefully) come in a short space of time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – I was completely transported to small town Baileyville and the wide open skies of the surrounding mountain trails. I became totally immersed in the blossoming relationships not only of the women themselves, but the families they met on their travels. I was equally as outraged by the total domination of the town by the local employer and the inequalities that blighted the lives of many because of it. But ultimately I was also proud of the stand taken by the women to persevere against all odds to build and maintain their library. Overall this is a completely engaging and redemptive tale of love, friendship and the power of books.


The Blurb

The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes

The greatest love story is the one you least expect . . .

Alice is stifled, bored, and misunderstood.

So when she meets wealthy and handsome American, Bennett Van Cleve, she is quickly swept off her feet.

Marrying him and moving to America seems like a great adventure – but life as a newlywed in stuffy Baileyville, Kentucky, is not at all what she hoped for.

Until, that is, she responds to a call for volunteers to start a travelling library, surprising herself by saying yes, before her husband can say no . . .

Led by feisty and rebellious Margery O’Hare, this unlikely group of women travel far and wide on their mission to bring books and reading to those that need it, and Alice finally finds the freedom, friendship and love that she’s been looking for.

But not everyone approves of what they are doing, especially her new father-in-law. And when the town turns against them, will their belief in each other and their work be enough?


    • I’m aware of the controversy. As I understand it, it related to similar plot themes. Whether or not the author took these (inadvertently or otherwise) doesn’t detract from the fact that she still had to write the rest of an exceedingly long story to accomodate them and that was excellently done. I realise this suggests that I might be defending plagiarism, which is not my intention, but having now read the book, there seems to be a hell of a lot more that was different than was similar if these are the only examples that could be found. The only person who knows the truth is the author. I’m not wading in on either side, just passing my opinion on the book that I read (or rather listened too).

      Liked by 6 people

  1. sorry about the controversy, but your lovely review had me jumping on NG to see if it was available. (So many review books i see from blogger buddies are no longer available.) This one says available for request, but upon trying discovered it’s wish list only. never tried that before, but there’s always a first time for everything, including this. wish me luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is one of my favourite books this year, so glad you enjoyed it too, Jill. Agree with your comments too (above) with regards to any controversy surrounding it. It’s great to see that you can enjoy a book audibly if not able to read and how good to know it was narrated well – I think narration is to an audible as translation is to a book originally written in a foreign language.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed it too Janet, I think it’s my book of the year – totally captivated by it. The narration was excellent really brought the characters to life. I’m very picky about narrators, doesn’t matter how good the book is it the ‘voice’ doesn’t suit me I can’t listen, this however was perfect 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read a Jojo Moyes book in a long time, not since After You. I had seen this one out but didn’t realize it wasn’t part of the Me Before You story. Glad you enjoyed it – I’ll have to check it out 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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