October Book Club: The Giver of Stars

Cover art for the Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Confession time: Sometimes I avoid books because their plot revolves around my profession. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my work as a librarian, it’s just that I tend to read books that allow me a certain level of escapism. When The Giver of Stars first came across my radar, I was tempted to dismiss it in favor of something that had at least a little bit more of a fantasy element. Now that I’ve read the book, I’m glad that I didn’t.

That being said, do I feel as though I’ve gotten a good picture of what it was like to participate in a packhorse library? In some ways yes, it was interesting to read about how the library built a sense of community and how long and tiring the hours where. In other ways, perhaps not. While this book is based on a true story, I was left wondering how much liberties were taken in romanticizing the packhorse librarian experience.

Regardless of this romantic perspective, Moyes gave us an interesting group of characters to watch grow throughout the story. Though the story focuses on impulsive Alice, Margery, Izzy, Sophia and Beth find themselves changed by the library as well. Though they started with nothing in common besides the library, it was easy to relate to how something so intense could bring a group together.

Though wrapped up almost too perfectly, one thing I appreciated how one wealthy man could manipulate the town’s mindset in order to best suit his needs. One woman is making sure that his town can’t expand so he’s got to take town that one woman, starting with her library. It almost worked too, showing us the dark side of what money has the power to do.

As always, I have mixed feelings about Alice finding true love and remarrying. On the one hand, she’s a character I wanted to be happy. On the other hand, she was getting ready to go back to England despite all the growth that she had gained during her time as a packhorse librarian. I couldn’t decide if those were really her only choices during that time period (I suppose they were) or if there may have been a third path (realistically there probably wasn’t). Still, one can’t help appreciating that the reason she’s able to leave her neglectful husband is because he never consummated the marriage.

Speaking of Bennet, what a strange character. It’s obvious that his father abused him, but I wonder if there’s more to the story there. Did he want to be married to a woman? If not, why go back after Peggy and fail to consummate that marriage as well? Bennet seemed like one of life’s sleepwalkers. He wasn’t really a bad guy, he just also wasn’t a very good one.

The Giver of Stars is often recommended to be read in junction with the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, so I picked it up and read a few chapters. These three chapters cued me into the idea that The Giver of Stars may be more of a romantic story (you know, besides the fact that it was a romantic story), but I ended up abandoning the book due to seemingly consistent violence. While I don’t typically abandon a book for having a rape scene in it, I also don’t want to be greeted by one in the first few chapters. There’s so much happening in the world right now, I couldn’t bring myself to keep reading as Bluet faced abuse after abuse.

Cover art for A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

I’ve decided to give into social media a little bit for November’s book club and have us read a Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Having read a lot of Holly Black growing up, this book looks like it uses that traditional style: fairies cannot be trusted, don’t eat the food, don’t drink the wine, don’t make any deals combined with a main character who systematically breaks each rule.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.