The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.
Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.
The new year was barely fifteen hours old in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, when my Pa adjusted the courting candle, setting it to burn for an alarming amount of time.
I will admit that it took me a minute to get in to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and to get used to the writing. I do not know when it happened but eventually something just clicked in to place and I fell in love with this book. If you pick this one up and struggle with it in the beginning, keep on going- I do not think you will be disappointed!
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is based on the real life Blue People of Kentucky. I had never heard of this family before reading this novel and I was compelled to do more research on them. I have a feeling that anyone who reads this book will do the same! It is a fascinating look at genetics and at society.
The setting is strong and compelling. I always enjoy a novel set in the Appalachian mountains. The mountain setting is imperative to this story and adds to the isolation and hardships of the characters.
Our main character, Cussy Mary Carter, aka Bluet, is what you might call a travelling librarian, delivering books to the people in her community who would otherwise not have access to them. She understands the importance of her work and so do her clients. It is with these fellow book lovers where she feels most confident and where the colour of her skin has no bearing. It is a beautiful reminder of the power of books and reading.
I must warn you, while there are a lot of delightful moments and character, there are also a lot of difficult scenes and cruel characters. The way Cussy Mary was often treated made my blood boil. It is a testament to Kim Michele Richardson’s writing and her character development- I became truly invested in this story.
Yes. I think that historical fiction fans will adore The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I also believe that readers who do not normally gravitate towards this genre may enjoy it. It is not your typical historical fiction novel. While the time period and setting are historical, I felt like the book tackled some very modern issues.
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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is out now! Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.