Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.
The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.
★★★★★ / 5
“…frankly he could have been the Hunchback of Notre Dame and she would have agreed that moving into a clanging bell-tower was a very fine idea indeed, thank you…”
This line here is when I knew for sure that I was going to love Alice. Honestly when I started reading the book, I did so with a very skeptic outlook because I was expecting it to be a cliche rom-com despite the fact that genre mentioned historical fiction very clearly. Few pages in, I came across this dialogue and suddenly I knew that this was going to be a book that I will definitely enjoy, which explains the fact that I read the entire thing within a span of few hours.
There are so many aspects of this book that I want to discuss but of course I’ve got to mindful of spoilers, so I’ll to be as discrete as possible.
Starting off with Alice, talk about character development. Of course I liked her in the beginning but oh my god, at the end of the book, I was in love with her. She went from being ignorant to someone who’s witty, smart and most of all, takes a stand for herself and doesn’t give a damn about what people around her thought of her. She blossomed into this amazing character [and it’s killing me that I cannot discuss the details in this review].
Next up is Margery. There is no doubt whatsoever, she is the character you fall in love with right from the get go. She’s opinionated, strong headed, brave and takes a stand for herself and others and never gives a damn about what the world thought of her. But at the core of her heart, she has so much love, softness and concern and she’s such a beautiful character.
The friendship between Margery and Alice is absolutely beautiful and so pure. Margery helped Alice evolve into a courageous woman, she helped her break free from her cocoon whilst Alice believed in Margery, was there for her at every turn and never left her side regardless of the turmoils thrown their way.
Of course there was also the romantic aspect to this book and I knew where it would end up the very minute Fred was introduced. His role in the girls lives and the way it all folded out was truly heartwarming and if you’re single like me, it’s just another reminder of how single we are. And then of course there is Sven, who is such a strong character and again another reminder of how rare it is to find good men these days [he is the epitome of a perfect partner, but of course I couldn’t stop picturing the reindeer from Frozen because of the name, so it was kind of hard for me to accept the seriousness of his character].
Overall, this book is the perfect blend of all the relevant elements; a whole lot of women empowerment, fighting what you believe for, the true essence of friendship, helping others in times of need, building your own little family with the people you love, the power of second chances and most of all what women are capable of when they support each other. If I sound like I am obsessed with this book, it’s because I truly am. I loved it and I highly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of historical fiction or to anyone who’s interested in reading about the dynamics of friendship, love and community.
To end with, here’s another favourite excerpt from the book:
“You know what’s really wonderful about those fireflies?” he said, finally, as if they had been having a whole other conversation. “Sure, they live for just a few weeks. Not much at all in the grand scheme of things. But while they’re there, the beauty of them, well, it takes your breath away. You get to see the world in a whole new way. And then you have that beautiful picture burned onto the inside of your head. To carry it wherever you go. And never forget it.”