The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

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 deli...

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Title:The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author:Kim Michele Richardson
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Reviews

  • Angela M

    When I finished this book, I thought it was such a good story and I immediately gave it four stars, but then I thought about it more as I was writing this. I thought about what a meaningful story it is, what an amazing and strong character Cussy Mary Carter is, what a realistic depiction of time and place is presented here, about how much I learned from it, how touched I was, and the wonderful way that the author blends the story of the Blue People of Kentucky with the Pack Horse Library Project

    When I finished this book, I thought it was such a good story and I immediately gave it four stars, but then I thought about it more as I was writing this. I thought about what a meaningful story it is, what an amazing and strong character Cussy Mary Carter is, what a realistic depiction of time and place is presented here, about how much I learned from it, how touched I was, and the wonderful way that the author blends the story of the Blue People of Kentucky with the Pack Horse Library Project. I shorty went back and gave it the five stars it deserves.

    In the Appalachian hills of Kentucky in the 1930’s, the people are poverty stricken and hungry. The Pack Horse Librarian Project is established as part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration and we meet 19 year old Cussy Mary Carter, one of the Book Women, the librarians dedicated to bringing books and stories and knowledge to the people in the hills of Kentucky. She also is known as Bluet, as she is one of the Blue People of Kentucky. I found this story to be fascinating as I had never heard of the Blue People of Kentucky and I never knew about these trail blazing women, both literally and figuratively who delivered reading materials to their patrons in tough conditions.

    Cussy Mary’s story angered me. She’s the victim of prejudice and racism and an early disastrous arranged marriage that her father thought would provide care for her after he was gone, which he thought would not be far off, given the years he spent in the coal mines. It’s heartbreaking as she is subjected to medical tests and evaluation to protect her and her father and to get food for the starving children at the school and heartbreaking that she seeks a “cure” for her condition so she wouldn’t be shunned and discriminated against. Her story moved me as I saw the connections she makes with her patrons, especially the children in the schoolhouse, who are hungry for food as well as for stories. She brings them more than books. She brings kindness and food when she can. She brings them hope and in some cases life.

    This is a story with a fantastic depiction of time and place, and people. An example of historical fiction at its best reflecting the worst things in life such as the racism that existed then and sadly now as well and some of the best things, the kindness of people, the importance and value of the written word, the joy that Cussy Mary got out of seeing the joy she brought to them when she delivered a book. Highly recommended!

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Sourcebook Landmark through Edelweiss.

  • Karen

    I enjoyed this story so much!

    The Pack Horse Library Project was established in 1935 by President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration... an effort to bring jobs to women and bring books and reading material to the poor and isolated areas of Appalachia, where there were few schools and inaccessible roads.

    Cussy Mary was one of these women who had a route.. she was 19 yrs old, a coal miner’s daughter, who’s father was trying to marry her off, because he had the bad lung from mining, and wanted

    I enjoyed this story so much!

    The Pack Horse Library Project was established in 1935 by President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration... an effort to bring jobs to women and bring books and reading material to the poor and isolated areas of Appalachia, where there were few schools and inaccessible roads.

    Cussy Mary was one of these women who had a route.. she was 19 yrs old, a coal miner’s daughter, who’s father was trying to marry her off, because he had the bad lung from mining, and wanted her to have someone to care for her.

    Cussy didn’t want that because she loved being The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky... and she earned her own wages from doing that. She was also so good hearted and tried to help the people on her route.

    Also, she and her Pa were “blue” people. Lots of people nicknamed her Bluet, for that reason.

    I’d never heard about these Blue People of Kentucky...they were considered “colored” people and were treated horribly just like the blacks.

    I learned new things in history from this beautiful book, and myself, being the granddaughter of a West Virginia coal miner.. extra interesting!

    Thank you to Netgalley and to Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC!

  • Jaline

    In the fierce, majestic mountains and hollers of Appalachian Kentucky in the 1930’s, there were many small towns and communities that were so isolated some people never saw a newspaper. Or, if they did, it was used to paper a layer to the insides of their tiny homes to help keep the weather out. Books, for the most part, were a luxury, and often only family Bibles or the odd family heirloom would be in the home.

    In the 1930’s people everywhere

    In the fierce, majestic mountains and hollers of Appalachian Kentucky in the 1930’s, there were many small towns and communities that were so isolated some people never saw a newspaper. Or, if they did, it was used to paper a layer to the insides of their tiny homes to help keep the weather out. Books, for the most part, were a luxury, and often only family Bibles or the odd family heirloom would be in the home.

    In the 1930’s people everywhere struggled for the basics of food and shelter during The Great Depression. As part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, he set up education programs in isolated areas whereby books donated by a variety of service clubs and larger libraries could be delivered to families via horse, mule, canoe, or sometimes just walking. The program initially hired single women with the idea of giving them gainful employment and so the Pack Horse Project came into being, and the brave and inspired women came to be known as “Book Women”.

    This beautifully written, warm, and touching novel is about one Book Woman who served her county in Kentucky near a small town center called Troublesome Creek for several years. It is a fictional novel, yet is based on well-researched historical facts.

    Cussy Mary Carter, sometimes called “Bluet”, and sometimes called “Book Woman” is, according to her father, the last of “her kind”. Aside from all else, she is one of the rare people in the world who have congenital methemoglobinemia. Cussy Mary had the characteristic blue skin which occurs due to less oxygen in the blood. Thus, her nickname, “Bluet”. She was named “Cussy” for the town in France where her maternal great-grandfather lived before leaving for the United States.

    Her story is inspiring. It is also heart-rending. Cussy Mary’s dedication to her “patrons” on her pack horse route brings her into contact with many events, some frightening, and some very touching. My heart went out to her many times during this book, and indeed, I felt such a strong bond with the people of this county in Kentucky and their children. So many of them were starved for knowledge and the sense of pride that comes from discovering that knowledge through reading. So many of them found hope in the stories of other people’s challenges and how they managed to overcome them.

    This novel is very strong, and it is beautifully written. The one weak spot for me was near the beginning when Cussy Mary and her father have heated discussions about her future over a period of time. I understood the logic of both Cussy Mary and her father but I felt that their discussions could have been briefer as the long-term consequences were redeemed many times in many ways in the rest of the novel.

    Aside from this minor weakness (from my perspective), this novel soared, and I am definitely interested in reading more of this writer’s work. I admit to both horror followed by tears of happiness and happy tears followed by horror over the time frame of this novel. The ending was excellent, except for one thing: by then I was so immersed in these people’s lives, I wanted to stay there and learn more of their stories.

    4.5 Stars

  • Diane S ☔

    From the beginning I adored Cussy or Bluet as she is called by some. A pack librarian in the Kentucky Appalachians, she delivers books to folks living in the hollers. As part of FDRs work program, she rides her mule and delivers her books. This is depression era, 1930' and people are struggling, making them look forward to the books, newspapers or magazines she brings. Some cannot read, so she reads to them, some are just learning to read, and some just look st the picture She is in all ways won

    From the beginning I adored Cussy or Bluet as she is called by some. A pack librarian in the Kentucky Appalachians, she delivers books to folks living in the hollers. As part of FDRs work program, she rides her mule and delivers her books. This is depression era, 1930' and people are struggling, making them look forward to the books, newspapers or magazines she brings. Some cannot read, so she reads to them, some are just learning to read, and some just look st the picture She is in all ways wonderful. She and her father consider themselves to be the last of the blue people of Kentucky, a genetic trait passed on, but they don't know this yet. Their father and daughter relationship is a close one, and a joy to behold.

    They are considered colored, treated just as badly by some as the blacks. Bigotry and discrimination is something she faces daily. The author does a fantastic job showing us the past in this region, using regional dialect snd wonderful descriptions of the fauna, the hills, and the local characters. She will go through many obstacles of personal matters, but her faith and love of the written word is a message she joyfully spreads.

    The book starts off rather slowly, and there are parts that are more sentimental then I usually like. Yet, her story, her character and the actual history related in this book, made those few qualms, inconsequential. The authors note explains the genetics involved in their coloring, as well as an explanation of the historical references. This is a book that shows, not tells and one feels as if they are traveling with Cussy on her personal and professional travels. A very heartfelt story.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    This was an incredibly original story with a main character that I had so many feelings for! I love when a book makes me go to the internet and research, "blue people" and "book women", I had no idea that there was ever a project such as this. These women really had to love books to hand deliver them to people in the high hills of Kentucky.

    My only problem with it was that it was very slowly paced. However when I thought further about it, perhaps it was written that way because that's how Cussy

    This was an incredibly original story with a main character that I had so many feelings for! I love when a book makes me go to the internet and research, "blue people" and "book women", I had no idea that there was ever a project such as this. These women really had to love books to hand deliver them to people in the high hills of Kentucky.

    My only problem with it was that it was very slowly paced. However when I thought further about it, perhaps it was written that way because that's how Cussy Mary Carter's life was. There was lots of hard work, little food, horrible living conditions and yet "Bluet" continued to love books. She was incredibly creative in making scrapbooks for her "clients" so that there would be more reading material for them. She added anything she could to her stash of books including any magazines, recipes from local people, pamphlets on infant care and treatment, etc.

    This is a heartbreaker of a novel but one that should not be missed. I highly recommend it.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

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