Three cheers for the women of the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project and three cheers for Eleanor Roosevelt who championed the cause! Cussy Mary Carter considers herself lucky to be one of the 'book women' dispensing books and hope to her poverty-stricken corner of 1930s Appalachia, even with the challenges she faces herself. Unfortunately a rare genetic condition that results in blue skin, gives people licence to treat her as badly as they do dark-skinned people.
Rich with intriguing detail, and enhanced by photographs of the real-life pack horse librarians, this fascinating story with its delightful heroine is testimony to the power of books and the courage and commitment of those who go beyond the call of duty to place them in the hands of readers. [Larger font]
A very interesting book based on sound historical research, this introduced us to a time and place about which we knew little if anything and to the blue people about whom we had never heard. Some enjoyed the lush passages of description while others thought these were overwritten. We generally agreed that there were a few too many deaths and disasters: rape, assault, suicide, death by starvation, in childbirth, and in a mining accident. The extreme poverty, hardship, ignorance and prejudice rang true as did the courage and commitment of the book women.
This is a fascinating study of a very rare condition that makes its sufferers appear blue. And the account of life in Kentucky in the 1930s among the poor in remote parts is also moving and interesting. Most of us felt that the book is over-written - too many adjectives, too many horrible events in a very short period of time. But the material makes the book well worth reading - and it's clear that many people love the style of writing.
The descriptive prose in this book was absolutely divine. The group enjoyed the historical element of the story and were surprised by the racism and poverty experienced. The discussion notes sparked some interesting conversations about the nature of racism. We agreed the pacing of the book was a little off. However everyone loved the inherent goodness of the main character.
Our favourite book so far. The sheer courage and strength exhibited by Cussy Mary amidst the prejudice and dangers she faced made her an instantly likeable and unforgettable character for us all.
Fascinating read about a State in America that we knew little about. In awe of the women who worked for the library programme, and the benefits they provided which went beyond providing books - much like our libraries today!!
Everyone enjoyed this story though we found it very sad in parts. We would recommend the book strongly as probably the best and most interesting so far. We appreciated the notes and photos which added to the background.
Very readable, well-researched and a fascinating history we hadn't come across. An amazingly brave female spirit. Everyone enjoyed this and it elicited much discussion in our group.
Everyone loved the book. Was easy to read, and the author had carefully researched her subject matter and carefully woven the facts into a fascinating novel. None of us knew anything about the Packhorse Library or the 'blue people' of Kentucky, so we learned a lot. One member even bought a copy of the book for herself!
We all thoroughly enjoyed this book. As well as being an easy read it was very informative, a real insight into the past times of rural Kentucky.
An amazing, memorable story of how a determined young woman overcame the challenges of poverty, bigotry, racism and cruelty. The commitment to her tasks and compassion for the families she served was amazing - an informative, educational book.
A bittersweet account of the Kentucky blue people and their lives during the Great Depression. A well-written novel, the author skillfully used atmosphere to place the reader into the heart of their troubles. Much discussion followed about coloured and disadvantaged folk from our perspective of a hundred years of social and medical improvements.
We all loved this book and enjoyed reading it, and learning of the 'Blues', and the history of the travelling librarians in Kentucky. It was a beautifully written book covering the history and traditions, as well as some extreme poverty and social injustices that the hill people suffered. We unanimously gave this book 5 stars.
Enjoyed by all and created an evening of varied discussion - words like sad, brave, bleak, endurance, realisation. Thoroughly recommend.
Great discussion. Book enjoyed by all!
Very good book. Some found it rather raw but all were glad to have read it. Good discussion. Recommended.
Excellent, well researched, thought provoking. Clever melding of the various themes. Appreciated the Author's Notes and photographs. We all learned such a lot. A member shared that as a student she had worked for the Country Library Service out of Christchurch which operated a network to provide books to people in isolated areas throughout the South Island.
Everyone loved the book. it is a strong and powerful story of resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. The history of the blue people of Kentucky is blended with the history of the packhorse librarians, who faced danger every time they set out to bring books and comfort for the poverty stricken people of the hills. The main character, Cussy Mary Carter, has to overcome prejudice every single day of her life, and does it with grit and determination. Very well-written.
We loved the insights into human nature, the soft side of hard folks, the cattiness of women, and the raw simple emotions. We all found something to aspire to in Cussy's "goodness". An interesting historical statement that caused much 'googling' to learn more.
We really enjoyed this book. Lots of discussion about the Depression, American history, poverty, social injustice, Blue folk, the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, and of course the value of books and reading:-)
We loved this book. It was fascinating and heartwarming. We would 100% recommend. Thank you for a great read.
This book was a huge hit - 100% approval! We were fascinated by the content and enjoyed the writing style.
A brilliant read. Thought provoking. Loved the style of writing.
All enjoyed reading and discussing this book. Very challenging emotionally.
Everyone enjoyed this book. A wonderful story woven around factual events. We recommended it to others and they raved about it as well. Plenty of discussion around prejudice, women's rights, and plenty of internet searches to find photographic evidence of the Blue People of Kentucky.
Most of us thoroughly enjoyed this book and the historical information conveyed. The style of writing annoyed a couple of members, but all agreed it was well worth reading.
We all found the subject matter of this book fascinating, most of us googled blue skinned people! It really transports you to another time and place, the packhorse library was an incredible service. Some enjoyed the writing style more than others.
Enjoyable book, easy to read. We had a good discussion about issues raised - racial inequality, prejudice, education, poverty. We were intrigued by the background of the packhorse library and the blue skinned people, and Roosevelt's WPA scheme - all learned something new.
A mixed reaction to this book, half loved it and the other half were ambivalent. We all found the background setting and medical information interesting.
Enjoyed by all members. Fascinating insight into the history, culture, social mores and concepts of race in Kentucky. We wondered how much has changed since 1936.
All the members of our group really enjoyed this book.
We're a bunch of medical people so really enjoyed this topic, and learning something about the packhorse library - very interesting.
Everyone liked this book, but it took 2-3 chapters to get used to the dialect. We thought Cussy was a very real character and found the community in which she lived well described. We liked the historical content of how the Packhorse library came to be developed., and we were saddened by the poverty and attitudes that existed in those days. We wished we had done more research on Kentucky as a state.
A very well-written and informative book on the blue people of Kentucky. We all enjoyed it and learnt a lot.
An amazing read.
High praise all around, including the half of us that only want non-fiction. Wonderful research and writing. The vocabulary of the local people made it a bit challenging to read parts.
We liked it very much from a woman's perspective - we learnt something new. It was interesting and well-written. A hard subject in places but felt authentic.
Grim read, but enjoyed by most.
We all loved this book. It was based on a true story, and no-one had heard of the Blue People of Kentucky, so very informative. Central character a lovely warm hearted person who was happy serving others despite the depressed situation.
Everyone read the book and everyone enjoyed it! Discussion around medicating people to whiten their skin (!), poverty, racism, hope, bringing books into homes and the existence of blue-skinned people, allowed for plenty of reasons to make this book a recommendation from our group.
All loved it!!
The entire group thoroughly enjoyed this book. The dialogue and descriptions were evocative and compelling. The unique incidence of the blood group turning the skin blue was fascinating, but those poor souls still had to cope with colour discrimination as much as anyone who wasn't white. You could only admire the book women for their courage and determination.
Loved this - fascinating.