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!

  • Fran

    Cussy Mary Carter was arguably the last "blue skinned person" in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. The year, 1936. Living in a backwoods, one-room log house, life was a struggle for the nineteen year old and her pa, a coal miner. Pa lit a "courting candle", intent upon making sure Cussy "will knot". Suitors would come and go wanting "a surety" that their progeny would not be blue. Cussy, nicknamed "Bluet", was subjected to taunts, prejudice and continuous ridicule due to her cobalt-blue skin color. H

    Cussy Mary Carter was arguably the last "blue skinned person" in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. The year, 1936. Living in a backwoods, one-room log house, life was a struggle for the nineteen year old and her pa, a coal miner. Pa lit a "courting candle", intent upon making sure Cussy "will knot". Suitors would come and go wanting "a surety" that their progeny would not be blue. Cussy, nicknamed "Bluet", was subjected to taunts, prejudice and continuous ridicule due to her cobalt-blue skin color. Her rare condition called methemoglobinemia caused decreased oxygenation in the blood producing blue skin. She was socially isolated, treated like an outcast.

    President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal included educational programs with the aim of bringing books to a poverty stricken populace living in hollers and backwoods. The Pack Horse Library was born. Single women could apply to deliver books, newspapers and magazines by horse, mule, boat and on foot. Cussy Mary aka Bluet knew that it was unlikely she would find a suitor. "I didn't have myself an escape until I'd gotten the precious book route". Bluet rode through dangerous passes, dark hollers, and forded creeks "toting a pannier full of books" carried by her trusty old mule, Junia.

    "Book Woman" another moniker for Cussy Mary, delivered hope to children and adults starving for learning. Children were "...as hungry for the stories in those books as they were for the food that always seemed sparse in this real land". Book Woman was unaware of the positive impact she had on library patrons on her book route. Her acts of kindness were in direct contrast to the reception she received at her once monthly visit to library headquarters. She arrived in town wearing a big brimmed bonnet to escape the stares and pointed fingers of the townsfolk.

    "The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek" by Kim Michele Richardson is a magnificent, well written work of historical fiction. As a child, I remember my delight when the "Book Bus" visited my school. We could examine the shelved books and choose two books from the lending library. Dial back to the 1930's. Pack Horse Librarians like Cussy Mary were true pioneers addressing illiteracy. "Folks here are hungry...folks tell me the books ease their burdens...". Kudos to Kim Michele Richardson for a 5* star read I highly recommend.

    Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek".

  • Carolyn

    I love novels where the story telling is based on true historical facts, especially when they are something I'd never heard of before. In this novel, the author weaves together two interesting, well researched historical episodes from 1930s Kentucky to tell a fascinating and memorable story.

    Nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter and her widowed coal miner father live in a small shack near Troublesome Creek, where they barely scrape by on his meagre wages and her small salary as a librarian for the

    I love novels where the story telling is based on true historical facts, especially when they are something I'd never heard of before. In this novel, the author weaves together two interesting, well researched historical episodes from 1930s Kentucky to tell a fascinating and memorable story.

    Nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter and her widowed coal miner father live in a small shack near Troublesome Creek, where they barely scrape by on his meagre wages and her small salary as a librarian for the Pack Horse Library Project. Cussy and her father are both members of the Blue people, an inbred family with a mutation that makes their skin appear blue, causing them to be reviled by the whites in town and banned from white-only rest rooms, restaurants and events. Because of this Cussy loves the solitary nature of her job bringing library books by horseback through the mountains of the Appalachians to impoverished backwoods families (her 'patrons'), who are mostly too excited to see new books arriving to worry much about the colour of her skin. While Cussy is happy to stay single for the rest of her life if she can only keep being a librarian, her father wants only to see her married, before he dies of the miner's lung disease that is slowly killing him, and that's when all the trouble starts.

    This is a heartwarming and, at times, heart wrenching tale of racism and injustice and the power of books and a fierce, courageous woman determined to open up the world for others through education and knowledge. There are some wonderful characters amongst Cussy's patrons - quiet, shy teenager Angeline expecting her first child, R.C. the firewatcher who wants to study to become a forest ranger as well as Cussy's friend and handsome Jackson Lovett as well as Cussy's friend, Negro pack horse librarian Queenie who eventually escapes the small town bigots to become a librarian in Philadelphia and Doc who desparately wants to get his hands on Cussy to study her blood and skin. Highly recommended for those who enjoy good storytelling with a historical background.

  • *Swaroop*

    "The printed word that brought a hopeful world into their dreary lives and dark hollers."

    Inspired by true events and real people, set in Kentucky and in the year 1936,

    is the amazing story of nin

    "The printed word that brought a hopeful world into their dreary lives and dark hollers."

    Inspired by true events and real people, set in Kentucky and in the year 1936,

    is the amazing story of nineteen-year-old Cussy "Bluet" Mary Carter. Cussy Mary is thought to be the last female of the blue mountainfolk. Her love for books and as one who truly believes that reading books leads to a better community and world, Cussy Mary joins the Kentucky Pack Horse Library program. These librarians used to travel by horse, mule, and sometimes by foot and boats to reach the remotest areas and homes in all types of weather conditions.

    This wonderful book is a true tribute to not just the brave, fearless and selfless Pack Horse Project Librarians, but to all the dedicated Librarians across the world and also to all those who understands the importance and enriching experience of reading books.

    Kim Michele describes vividly the life and times of the racially discriminated, shunned and shamed blue-skinned people of Kentucky. This book provides an understanding of the hardships and injustice faced by the local people working in the coal mines.

    There's also a lovely love story in this book. :-)

    Thank you Kim Michele, for this opportunity to write this review.

  • Book of Secrets

    Cussy Mary was such a compelling and unique character in this novel set in depression-era Kentucky. I warmed to her and her amazing story right away. ♥

    Part of President Roosevelt's plan to bring jobs to struggling rural areas was the Pack Horse Library Project. Working for this program, Cussy and her mule delivered second-hand books to the poorest of mountain folks surrounding Troublesome Creek.

    Cussy was called Bluet by many locals because of the uncommon color of her skin. She was a descendant

    Cussy Mary was such a compelling and unique character in this novel set in depression-era Kentucky. I warmed to her and her amazing story right away. ♥

    Part of President Roosevelt's plan to bring jobs to struggling rural areas was the Pack Horse Library Project. Working for this program, Cussy and her mule delivered second-hand books to the poorest of mountain folks surrounding Troublesome Creek.

    Cussy was called Bluet by many locals because of the uncommon color of her skin. She was a descendant of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and she faced cruelty and discrimination because of it. This book brilliantly brought to life what was going on in this time and place, all the hardships and hopes of this impoverished mining community.

    THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK was a wonderful & emotional journey, and I loved it! Cussy the Book Woman is a character who will stay with you long after finishing this absorbing piece of Southern historical fiction.

  • 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

  • Judy

    This book broke my heart, twisted it, stomped on it, and then uplifted it. I cried and raged as I read it. It is an emotional hotbed kind of read dealing with extreme poverty and hardship, discrimination, and perseverance.

    Cussy Mary Carter is a "Blue" (the last female of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky) who lives with her father (a "Blue" coal miner) and who works for Roosevelt's WPA Pack Horse Library Project. She delivers books to isolated mountain people. These people are so poor some ar

    This book broke my heart, twisted it, stomped on it, and then uplifted it. I cried and raged as I read it. It is an emotional hotbed kind of read dealing with extreme poverty and hardship, discrimination, and perseverance.

    Cussy Mary Carter is a "Blue" (the last female of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky) who lives with her father (a "Blue" coal miner) and who works for Roosevelt's WPA Pack Horse Library Project. She delivers books to isolated mountain people. These people are so poor some are dying of starvation but they are also starving for books and news. Cussy is devoted to the people on her route and tries to bring each one something special to read. She is also devoted to spreading literacy. Her perseverance through hardship proved her a strong and courageous girl.

    One of my very best reads so far this year. My thanks to Kim Michele Richardson and Sourcebooks Landmark through Netgalley for an advance copy.

  • 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.

  • Dem

    A compelling and story about adaptability, and courage, told With compassion and delicacy Kim Michele Richardson presents a little known chapter of American history that is inspired by the true blue skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse Library service of the 1930s.

    A compelling and story about adaptability, and courage, told With compassion and delicacy Kim Michele Richardson presents a little known chapter of American history that is inspired by the true blue skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse Library service of the 1930s.

    The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything―everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome's got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. Cussy's not only a book woman, however, she's also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble.

    I enjoyed this novel, its emotional and heartbreaking but a book that was entertaining and I enjoyed reading about the lives of the Kentucky mountain people and the coal miners.

    I did find it a little too sentimental in places but I can live with this if the story is well told and the fact that I am learning something new pushes this one from a 3.5 Star rating to a 4 Star.

    I think readers who enjoyed

    may well enjoy this one too. I listened to this one on audible and really enjoyed the experience.

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