Nidhi Bhatta | This novel is a historical romance fiction based on true events that occurred in the late 1930s. It is a journey of the packhorse librarians who rode on horses in the remote hills of a small town in Kentucky to provide books to the natives.
The story begins with Alice Wright, an English woman who readily agrees to marry the handsome American Mr. Van Cleve to escape from her stifling life but real life fairy tales are hard to find. After coming to Kentucky, she is surprised by her new husband’s unexpected aloofness and realizes that her husband is overshadowed by his father. She had just exchanged one cage for another. With her clipped British accent and lack of social acquaintances, she is treated like an outsider.
When the news gets around for recruitment of members for the library she agrees enthusiastically despite the opposed opinions of her in laws. She meets other wonderful women there who are griped by various barriers too and Alice finds herself enjoying their company over time. Out of all the women, she bonds the most with the strong minded Margery o Hara who is a fiery woman, does as she pleases and answers to no man. Gradually these women are faced with obstacles, not just the harsh elements on the trail, but also Alice’s controlling father-in-law, and townspeople threatened by the ideas the books contain. Keeping the library open becomes a herculean task. And for Alice, her new job and blossoming friendships become an unexpected lifeline, providing her with the courage she needs to make some tough decisions including leaving her husband after being hit severely by her father in law. Then a body is found in the mountains, rocking the close-knit community and tearing the women apart as one of them becomes the prime suspect. The further journey shows how they tackle problems together and find their own happily ever after’s.
Moyes writes yet another heartwarming modern classic containing romantic ventures, loyalty, friendship and historical events. If you liked reading the “gone with the wind”, you should definitely open this one. Moyes celebrates the power of reading in a terrific book that only reinforces that message.