Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michele Richardson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 2019
Length: 308 pages
I didn’t know much about the novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, before I began reading it. A coworker of mine mentioned it was a good read and then I read a few good reviews. I didn’t know the book was based on true events that occurred in the Appalachian mountains during the Great Depression. Eleanor Roosevelt started the Pack Horse Library Project (part of the New Deal) in the 1930’s to provide reading material to citizens living in the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky. Librarians would travel at least twice a month to deliver reading materials donated by large cities in the U.S. By 1936, librarians were delivering to at least 50,000 families and over 100 schools. The Pack Horse project ended in 1943 due to the end of the Works Progress Administration, however, in 1946 motorized bookmobiles began making the journey to deliver reading materials to remote locations.
(Information found at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/horse-riding-librarians-were-great-depression-bookmobiles-180963786/ ) For additional information, click here to listen to an interview done by NPR where they ask a prior Pack Horse Librarian, Mary Ruth Dieter, questions about her experience.
Kim Michele Richardson was born and resides in Kentucky. She researched information about the Pack Horse Librarians and residents of the Appalachian mountains while writing the novel. She discovered that there was a population of residents near Ball Creek and Troublesome Creek that had blue skin. Martin Fugate, a French orphan, came to Kentucky to claim land and married a local resident. They had 7 children, 4 of whom were blue. Neither Martin nor his wife were blue, but both happened to carry the same blue-blood recessive gene. Richardson writes “Congenital methemoglobinemia is due to an enzyme deficiency, leading to higher-than-normal levels of methemoglobin in the blood-a form of hemoglobin…”(The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, p. 288). The Fugate family faced discrimination due to their skin color, which Richardson addresses in the novel as the main character, Cussy Mary Carter, is a Fugate.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a historical fiction novel that does a great job in telling the history of the Pack Horse Librarian project. Cussy Mary Carter, a Pack Horse Librarian, faces many dangers on her route-wild animals, dangerous men and unpredictable weather to name a few. She loves her job and is willing to take the risk. Her father worries about her and her future once he passes away. Cussy tells her father she is fine and can take care of herself. She doesn’t believe she will ever marry as she is a Fugate and has spent most of her life being discriminated against.
The novel can move slow at times, but overall was a really good read. I enjoyed learning about the Pack Horse Librarians and about the hardships people faced living in the Appalachian mountains. I recommend Book Woman of Troublesome Creek to readers that enjoy historical fiction.
About the author…
From the Goodreads site:
Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U.S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable Child, and a book critic for the New York Journal of Books. Her novels include, Liar’s Bench, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field and The Sisters of Glass Ferry. Kim Michele currently finished her fourth novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek about the fierce and brave Kentucky Packhorse librarians. Coming Spring, 2019. Click here to visit the author’s website.