Book Review,  Recipe

The Giver of Stars Book Review ~ An Epic Inspiration

This book stuck with me. It inspired a trip to the mountains of Kentucky, horseback riding in the cold and some great comfort foods!

by Jojo Moyes

narrated by Julia Whelan
set in eastern Kentucky, 1930s

Book Rating: 5/5
British born Alice is adrift in the mountains of depression era Kentucky as well as her confounding new marriage. In a quick paced turn of events, Alice finds herself volunteering to be a pack horse librarian. Moyes composes a magical journey about a young woman finding her place in the world, the meaning of friends and true love. She does all this while paying homage to the power of the written word and the mountain librarians of Kentucky. I found the historical references fascinating. By  weaving books profoundly throughout the story, Moyes shares a subtle but determined reminder that we not take their literary knowledge, nor libraries, for granted. I loved Stars and I recommend it to almost everyone. I will reread this book and as it was my first book by Moyes, I will be picking up her other works. 

Audiobook Rating: 5/5 I really enjoyed Julia Whelan’s performance in The Giver of Stars. Her character definition was amazing! The way she brought each person to life with accents and inflection was incredibly gratifying. Let’s face it- audiobooks can be expensive but this one is worth every penny!

Travel

The dense mountains of Kentucky are both beautiful and humbling. Being from Florida, I braved the cold of January to explore the setting for The Giver of Stars. I have a whole new appreciation for the packhorse librarians’ dedication and passion for getting books out to the far reaches of their world. I was wearing three pairs of pants and two pairs of socks inside my shearling boots and I was still freezing during horseback riding! Not to mention, it was a mere hour long ride. These ladies were tough!  To see more about my trip, click here.

Photos from History Daily and part of the Goodman-Paxton Photographic Collection, Kentucky Digital Library.



Women’s Home Companion Magazine

This is the magazine mentioned multiple times in The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. As you can imagine, living in the back country hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression was hard and merciless. Food was scarce, poverty abounded. As a woman, days were long and filled with scrubbing laundry by hand, gardening, cleaning, sewing and making meals with what little you had for often very large families. Most mountain Kentucky men worked long days or nights in the dangerous coal mines. These magazines provided patterns, household budgeting tips, child care advice and recipes among many other topics. Being able to loan them for free from traveling book libraries that came right to your door must have been a Godsend for these tenacious women.

RECIPES

Alice’s English Cottage Pie

“She had been trying to make cottage pie, to encourage Annie to put something other than Southern food on the table.” 
Alice, Chapter 1

Yorkshire pudding

Yorkshire Pudding
Because I’m sure Alice would have loved some with her cottage pie! Luckily, during the making of this recipe, I was staying at an English neighbor’s home and she had the pudding tins. Regular muffin tins work just as well but I had fun doing it ‘proper’. 

Pork and Black Bean Stew

He lifted the lid off the heavy iron pot and the room was suddenly filled with the scent of slow-cooked meat. Beside  her on the table sat a heavy pan of corn bread and a bowl of green beans. Alice’s stomach gurgled unexpectedly and loudly, and she pressed a hand to it, trying not to blush.      
 Chapter 15

Cornbread

Courtesy of the Women’s Home Companion Cookbook. I found this one Amazon for $50. It’s filled with comforting recipes that grandma used to make. 
“There’s some cornbread and an apple in the leg of your drawers. I wasn’t sure whether they’d feed you.”    
Alice, Chapter 20

Swedish Christmas Cookies

Sven insisted and brought a small turkey that he stuffed and cooked, and made cinnamon cookies from his mother’s Swedish recipe.      
 Chapter 12

The Only Pie Dough You Will Ever Need

“My mother didn’t hold with twenty-four-hour-old pies, except mince. She would get up an hour earlier in order to bake a pie before breakfast but she would not bake any kind of custard or fruit pie, even pumpkin, the day before it was to be used, and if she had my father wouldn’t have eaten it.”
DELLA T. LUTES, Farm Journal, Chapter 6
The Nerdy Gourmet
The Nerdy Gourmet

Hi friends!! I’m Jenni, The Nerdy Gourmet. I love books and I love food. Combining the two with a splash of travel has become my passion. I am a self taught cook/baker and I believe that everyone can cook from scratch! I’m here with recipes and Nerdy Tips to help along the way.  
I review books, mostly ‘read’ via audio, and I create recipes inspired by the story lines. Sometimes if I am deeply moved by a story, I will travel and try my best to experience the book- and bring you along via my blog! I provide all the photographs and content for the Nerdy Gourmet (unless otherwise noted). 

  1. I am known as the nerd by family members because I like to read and learn. Idk why! Its fun…

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