Dear Fellow Reader,
I’m looking at a sunny day outside my window but at the same time, my hands are so cold. I am thinking warmth, but the weather isn’t cooperating. I suppose the fact that the grass is brown instead of green is a tell-tale sign that we are not into Spring the way I want us to be. The snow we received the other day was probably another sign but I’m not going to think about that.
I did cheat, which hasn’t helped. I took a week’s vacation. I was warm and in the sun for a week. I have found that I seem to need a break during the winter. I need to get somewhere and feel the warm sun and see color rather than just brown, grey, and white.
Going on vacation does mean that was able to read a lot. I know some might like adventures on vacation. I love warmth and books. I use vacations to make progress on my Goodreads goal for the year. I like having the accountability that Goodreads allows by having a set reading goal for the year. Although I will say that I wonder how many more books I can read than I have been reading. Oh, well, I’ll find out.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was published a few years ago. I had heard of it but had never read it. Then I was given an ARC of the sequel, The Book Woman’s Daughter. (You can probably say it with me – I was given an advance copy for my unbiased review.) The first thing I did was go to the library and take out a copy of the first book so that I could read it before I started the sequel. I downloaded the audiobook from the library. I did listen to the first hour or so while I was driving. But here is my issue – and I realize it is my issue – I don’t listen to audiobooks because I don’t know when I could take the time to listen to them. Now, I understand that many listen while they are doing other things like cleaning or gardening. That would involve me making a change from listening to music and I just don’t seem to make that change. So, and you might have guessed it, the book went back to the library before I could finish it.
So, I did what I constantly preach against. I read the sequel without reading the original book. I am not sure if I had absorbed enough from the first book to have an idea of what was going on when I read the second book but I was okay reading the second book without finishing the first book.
The Book Woman’s Daughter tells the story of Honey Lovett. As the book opens, Honey is 16 years old and is living with her parents. But also as the book opens, Honey’s parents are being arrested and imprisoned for miscegenation which is a charge leveled against those who marry outside of their race. Generally, these laws were in the south and applied to a white person marrying a black person. But in Kentucky, there was a family (they moved to Kentucky from France.) that had the blood disorder, methemoglobinemia, which causes the appearance of blue skin. In the uneducated hills of Kentucky, unusual was not good. The ‘blue people” were seen as bad – even so far as to be called the devil. In the case of Honey’s parents, Honey’s mother was blue. Honey also had blue hands and feet. She would wear gloves to hide her condition.
Because Honey was only 16 when her parents went to jail, she was a minor and the state wanted to take her and send her to a work camp until she was 21. Honey’s parents knew this could happen and therefore they tried to send her away before the sheriff came to pick them up. Honey had a hard time leaving them and didn’t hide the way she should have. She was about to be taken into custody when a neighbor stepped up and said that she was his daughter so that the sheriff and social worker wouldn’t take her. She escaped and went to live in a nearby town with an older woman she had known all her life.
Honey’s mother had been a “book woman”. During the depression, with the rough terrain and the way people were separated, many could not make it into town to go to the library. The government paid unmarried women to ride to people’s houses to deliver books and other reading materials. The program had been canceled. Honey’s mother, Cussy had been known for her role as a book woman. Honey had heard all the stories about her mother’s route. (In full disclosure, Cussie was not really Honey’s mother but while that point is brought out, it is not discussed much in this book.)
Honey moves to Troublesome Creek to live with Miss Loretta, who is in her 90s. There is a court hearing and the judge after some hesitancy allows Honey to live with Miss Loretta rather than go to the work camp. While Honey is still facing a lot of prejudice for being a “blue” she starts to settle down. She meets Pearl, who is the new woman fire tower watcher. Pearl and Honey become friends. The people in the town are prejudiced against Honey and some of the men are mad about Pearl getting the fire watcher job. They are upset enough that they damage the fire tower so that she can’t go to work immediately. They both have enemies.
The story goes on to tell about the obstacles faced by Honey over the next year. The poverty and animosity make her life difficult but she overcomes it because she is smart and resourceful. She becomes the new Book Woman as the post receives new funding.
There is no way around it – those were difficult times. Ignorance and lack of what we could consider basic necessities made life hard. It does make for an interesting read. I did find that I could follow the story without having read most of the first book. I think if you wish to go and read the first book, then you should do so but I would say to you that the first book certainly had more violence against women and “blues” than the second book.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. The book will be published on May 3, 2022.
Thanks for reading.
I read, actually listened to, THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK. It was very interesting to learn about “the blue people of Kentucky.” I currently live in southwest Virginia not far from Kentucky, and it was interesting to learn more about the culture and history of the area and to explore how prejudice and misunderstanding affected people. I enjoy any read the attempts to tackle and debunk patriarchy and prejudice and enjoyed the original book woman enough. Sounds like the second book is more of the same, and I will probably pass. So many books, so little time.
I do like audio books to get more “reading” done, but appreciate your difficulty in switching habits. 😉
Julia, From the summary I read of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, It seemed to me that there was a lot more violence against “Blues” and women than there is in the second book. While there is attempted murder and murder, they are not graphic. But I completely understand your point about too many books….. I have the same problem all the time! Take care!