Alice Wright lives a suffocating existence in England. She is repeatedly disappointing her stuffy parents and dreams of a new life. When she meets the very charming Bennett Van Cleve it is her chance to start over in America. Alice and Bennett marry quickly and travel across the ocean where to her shocking dismay, they continue on to a small town in Kentucky. It is in Baileyville that Alice has the opportunity to join the packhorse librarians, a group Eleanor Roosevelt created to make jobs and spread literacy in these remote parts. As her marriage all but disappears Alice realizes she traded one kind of loneliness for another. Going against her father-in-laws wishes she finds immense happiness with this brave group of women who deliver books throughout the difficult mountain terrain. The first half of this well written novel moves quickly focusing on criminal coal mine owners, women’s rights and racism. The second half, a murder trial when librarian Margery is thrown in jail, drags a little. It is an enjoyable historical fiction novel by Jojo Moyes that has MANY similarities to The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Richardson, which came out months ago. If you read Troublesome it is impossible to ignore these unmistakable coincidences. Putting that aside, I enjoyed them both.
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