Earlier this week, I finished “The Giver of Stars” by JoJo Moyes. I’ll be reading and reviewing quite a bit more over the next few weeks while social distancing, so you may be seeing more like this around here.
Read on for my (relatively spoiler-free) review.
3 ⭐️ – higher than I’d give it solely based on my personal feelings, since I recognize this book isn’t my type and I do think fans of this style would enjoy it.
I wouldn’t have picked up this book if it weren’t a book club pick. I don’t love Historical Fiction and traditionally I haven’t been head over heels with the writing style Jojo Moyes uses. I also am aware of the controversy surrounding this and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (which I plan to read soon) and that turned me off a little. I had expected to have strong negative feelings on this one, but I ended up liking it well enough in the end, although I feel mostly indifferent towards it.
What I liked
Margery O’Hare – everything about her. Mrs. Brady and her surprising wit and sharp tongue. The way the packhorse librarians banded together and became a sisterhood. How Alice got a happy ending, in the end. All the threads tied up nicely. Several moments made me laugh out loud.
What wasn’t for me
I really didn’t connect with much in this book. The somber moments didn’t hit me in the gut like they normally would. It’s very slow paced, which made it difficult for me to get invested in this book. It picked up about halfway through. But just when I was starting to enjoy some parts, the ending rushed in and tied things up way too quickly.
And the world building leaves much to be desired. I kept forgetting what time period this book was set in. I had to look back multiple times because something just felt a bit off. I think it’s because the time of place wasn’t super oriented well. This book lacks clear detail and the details included don’t always seem to fit. I’m not sure if it’s due to the author’s relative lack of close familiarity with Kentucky (even though she spent some time there to write), or not knowing what the U.S. was like during this time period. But it just didn’t click for me like I expect historical fiction should.
Who should read
I’d recommend “The Giver of Stars” to fans of historical fiction who are also fans of Moyes. I think this will feel more at home to those readers. I am not sure I’d recommend it to readers that aren’t fans of historical fiction, or to those expecting a typical Moyes romance. I think you may feel similarly to me.