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What readers think of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, plus links to write your own review.

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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

A Novel

by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson X
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2019, 320 pages

    May 2019, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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There are currently 9 reader reviews for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
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Power Reviewer
Cathryn Conroy

SO Good! A Gripping, Authentic Saga About Poverty, Prejudice, and the Resilience of the Human Soul
In the 1930s in the hardscrabble mountains and hollers of eastern Kentucky food was scarce and jobs were backbreaking, but thanks to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, there were books. Think of it as a bookmobile on a mule. Women (and a few men) were hired as librarians, and they delivered and retrieved books via horse, mule, and donkey up and down steep trails and through dark forests.

Written by Kim Michele Richardson, this novel is based on these "book women" with a major plot twist: The lead character, Cussy Mary Carter Frazier, is one of the infamous blue people of Kentucky, supposedly the last of her kind. Her skin is a vivid shade of blue, which gets so blue that it's almost purple when she blushes. While the few blacks in the backwoods town of Troublesome Creek in which the book takes place faced fierce discrimination, the blues were even more hated.

Cussy, or Bluet as she was nicknamed early on in life, becomes a book woman, and her work fills her with tremendous joy. But her widowed father is set on marriage for his daughter — if anyone will have her. And then trouble brews. On her book route she is "hunted" (quite literally) by the local parson, a vulgar and dangerous man, until something happens that puts both Cussy and her father's lives at risk of a public hanging. While the plot left me breathless at times, the real strength of the book is in the stories of Cussy's patrons—the 16-year-old pregnant woman whose husband was shot in the foot for stealing chickens, the school teacher and her endearing students, the moonshiner who resents the time Cussy's books take from his wife and children who should be doing chores, and the handsome newcomer who moved back home to the mountains after helping to build the Hoover Dam.

Deftly written with authenticity, keen insight, and extraordinary descriptions, this is a gripping saga about poverty, prejudice, and the resilience of the human soul. It's also a love song to books and the pleasure, power, and light they bring to even the darkest of places.

Best of all, it's just a really good story. It's one of those hard-to-put-down novels that will keep you up past your bedtime.
Bev C

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
This is an incredibly touching story of 19 year old blue skinned Cussy Mary Carter.
The year is 1936 and she is a rider for the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky.
I see her as a shining light of hope and literacy in treacherous Appalachian mountains.

With beautiful simplicity, she touches the lives of anyone she encounters.
This is a personal 2019 favorite.

A special thanks to Catherine for sharing with me her enthusiasm for this novel.
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

One of the Best Books of 2019
“The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”, the last book I read in 2019, is without a doubt one of the best books of 2019. The beautiful writing pulled me into the story and kept me entranced to the very end. I was fascinated with the story of the Kentucky Pack Horse library service which, in the 1930s, got books into remote and isolated areas of Kentucky. Rural Appalachia is known for its poverty, and reading of the struggles of the people was heartbreaking. These were proud people who had to fight each day just to survive. The coal mines often took the life of the men, and children died of starvation. Yet, with so little, they still anticipated the visit from the Book Woman as the books were often the only bright moments in their lives. Books gave them a glimmer of hope.

As for the blue-skinned people of Kentucky, at first I thought perhaps this was just a bit of science fiction thrown into the story. So, of course, I had to look it up. I was really surprised then to find that there really were blue-skinned people in Kentucky (caused by an enzyme deficiency). It was very painful to read of the prejudice and cruel treatment they often encountered.

The reader gets a glimpse into the life of the book women through blue-skinned Cussy Mary Carter who set out each week, with her stubborn mule Junia, on her route to deliver books to her patrons. I loved her! She was strong, determined, and compassionate. She loved books and, even more so, loved getting books into the hands of her patrons. She knew that books could be life changing. Some of her patrons were so appreciative of her service that they insisted on giving her the last morsel of food they had even though they were starving themselves.

While there are many heartbreaking moments in the book, this is still a story of family and perseverance. The book was hard to put down as I was emotionally invested in Cussy Mary’s life. There are numerous “supporting” characters – her patrons, her father, the other book women – and all elicited some emotional response in me. I highly recommend this book. This is a book you won’t be able to forget. Warning: You may need tissues.

Thank you to BookishFirst for the copy to review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
This title would have been one of my beloved recommendations for my patrons at the library I worked at for 36 years. The government program instituted in the 1930s took books to the isolated hills of Kentucky and was a soul saving gift to the people. Books are a gift for all of us when the stories of those we know nothing about are told. We are enlightened, and learn that people who may appear different are no different than we are on the inside. I came away with a deeper understand of those who live a life of isolation and extreme poverty yet love the solace and connection to other worlds outside of their own by means of books. We appreciate each and everyone of us have value when reading a story unlike our own life between the pages of a book.
Janet Smith

Good Historical Fiction
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a gem of historical fiction. I was unaware of the Kentucky Pack Horse program or the blue skinned people of Kentucky. Although the book starts out a little slow, I found the book fascinating and an endearing read. Once engaged, I couldn't put the book down. It is a book not to be missed.

Couldn’t put it down
I cant say enough positive. What a great story - the blue folks and the mobile library are two parts of history I would not have known except for this book. Great characters, well written and presented, and pleasant to read. And no underlying agenda. I put this author on my list to read more of her works.
Marty Ann Brooks

Troublesome Creek
Very slow in places, otherwise good. Love the history of the women who traveled over some of these treacherous hill and trails to help bring joy to so many, and on horseback.
Power Reviewer

Very satisfying
This would have been 5 stars except the first quarter of the book seems way too constrained by the author's need to let us know she did the research necessary. Once she worked her way through her research and actually developed the characters, the story took off. Highly recommended.
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Beyond the Book:
  The Pack Horse Library Project

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