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Summary

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. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she's going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler. 

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere - even back home.

©2019 Kim Michele Richardson (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

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My audiobook of the year.

This beautifully narrated story receives my personal audiobook of the year award this year. I listen to an awful lot of audiobooks in a year so that's quite an accolade. I loved every minute of this well researched and perfectly told story.

5 people found this helpful

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Brilliant, moving, heartwarming.

I loved this . A brilliant book.

The story is authentic and incredibly moving , my heart broke so many times. So much hardship and suffering.
Many issues described could have easily have been now, in this time not the 1930s.
I found it very well written, the words flowed so well and it was hard to put down.

I loved cussy and so many of the characters.
I can't recommend this enough.

4 people found this helpful

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what a beautiful read

loved it from start to finish... interesting sad loving heartbreaking couldn't put it down .. best book I've read this year by far

3 people found this helpful

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BLUE BLOODED

I listened to this so that I could enter into the plagiarism debate. I read the giver of stars last year and enjoyed it. I can see similarities with the JJM book but I think this one is grittier and more realistic. As a nurse I was interested in the blood disorder the protagonist had and appalled at the physical abuse she received from care workers. The prejudice against her sickened me - what a lovely woman. Queenie (there is a similar character in GOS) was also attractive and interesting. Jackson a flawed hero and her father a truly good man. The narrator does a wonderful job. I will recommend to the groups I am in but I think in the U.K. GOS with its British links is more popular.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it.

A beautiful story, linked to history.
I never knew about the blue folk and it got me researching to learn more about them.
Kim's characters give great insight into life in Kentucky in those times.
I enjoyed the narration even though she missed a beat or two.
I'd recommend this gentle tale as worth a listen.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved this

What a brilliant story! I couldn’t put this down. I was absolutely fascinated by the ‘blue people’ and by the pack horse library, so having the combination made a very interesting story. I googled the medical cause of the ‘blue people’ and was amazed by this condition. I will be looking for more stories by this author. Narration very good also.

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Grabs you from the first paragraph

Historical novel set deep in the wilds of Kentucky in the 1930’s and it’s written so well you can almost smell the tree sap, the wood burner and coal dust. It’s a beautifully written book with heartbreaking tragedy and heartwarming friendships. This story will stick with me for a long time. And if you haven’t Googled the Fugates by the time you get to page 100, you should!

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really enjoyable

I found this very engaging and enjoyable to listen to. The story of the pack horse librarian and the Blue People were interesting and not something I would have ever heard about otherwise.

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excellent listen

I dont normally enjoy books read in american, but this novel is set in Kentucky so it seems very right.
story had be 'on a hook' to hear where it would go next, and also intregued to hear the real history and science behind the blue people of kentucky -

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  • Hi
  • 08-11-21

Loved it!

A heartfelt and beautifully written story of strong spirit, harsh times, sorrow and prejudice. Don’t despair - there is love and warmth above else. The power of reading as a force for change underpins the story. Great leading character- Cussy Mary who overcomes so many challenges

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  • T214T1987
  • 07-01-20

Narrator ruined it for me....

The good: This was a unique story about the WPA , initiative to bring literacy to the people in Appalachia Kentucky. I loved the history, the writer is very good and if I were reading this book vs. listening, I think I would have rated it higher.

I know this author was born in KY and now lives in NC so she has experience/knowledge/knows the culture/people--it was evident in her writing. The major focus of this book was on the trials of " Cussy Mary" a female with a hematologic abnormality that causes her to have " blue skin" . This is a real disorder, called , " Methemoglobinemia " . I work in hem/oncology and have for 20+ years. I liked that the author added in the historical info about the KY Fugate population.
I liked how she incorporated the lead characters involvement with medical research, etc....

The bad:
Narrator--Katie Schorr---her Southern accent was horrible. I was born and raised in SC. I have lived all over the US due to military obligations. I have heard just about every Southern accent and I know may people from and have visited KY many times, but this accent didn't sound like any of them .

Ugh....I actually stopped listening to this audible book and forked over the extra money to buy the kindle book . When I was reading, I could hear the narrator speaking....it was like audible PTSD.

I then held off reading or listening for about 3 weeks. I finally finished this book and it was a good book.

I thought the addition of unrequited love was not believable . I also thought if the guy really loved Cussy Mary he would have said something sooner. He knew what she went through on a daily basis , I think , to me , it just did not add up.

Last, I did not have any vested feeling for Cussy Mary. Some of her reactions to or statements about issues/etc,,, seemed like she accepted any and all and was like, " oh well" ….but her reaction to Henry's issue(s) seemed very real and the author described her grief very well. I could see it and felt it as I was reading it.

I will get a few naysayers on this statement---I thought Jo JO Moyes book, Giver of Stars was a better book. The narrorator was excellent, her Southern accent was believable and actually pleasant. The story line was very good , I liked the story of 7 totally different, unique females coming together for the purpose of helping the WPA pack horse librarian initiative . I loved the camaraderie of these women>>they had a shared goal . I was pulling for them . I felt I would have been friends with any of them. The bonds of friendship are almost like the ones seen /forged during times of war , which is basically what was going on in KY at that time with " big Coal" and miners rights, the ravaging of nature, etc....women's rights did not exist.

Moyes wrote the better book in my opinion--but, Troublesome Creek was a more unique story with the addition of the very unique, " Blue people" story line, which is based on a true story.

Last--I could not figure this out, at the end of the story of Cussy Mary --she makes a statement to someone she loves and this was at a time, in which she had been a PH Librarian for at least 3 years, read since " she was 3 yo"---but she makes this statement , " I am gonna learn you " vs. " I am gonna teach you" how to read. I cannot reconcile this because she is well read. I do not care where she grew up, etc... well read individuals do not talk like this , it made her seem stupid. I also felt as if a native Kentuckian would not want to paint a whole people group (Appalachian KY) w/ a brush of complete utter ignorance of the language--. I hated that Cussy Mary sounded ridiculous, stupid, etc... The stupid Southern trope , or the " banjos playing" /Deliverance trope is over-used and dull . That also made me truly not care enough for Cussy Mary because I felt as if she should have grown in all ways by this time in the book.

93 people found this helpful

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  • Janna Wong Healy
  • 17-08-19

A LOVELY, SAD AND PROFOUND BOOK!

4.5 Stars. Inspired by the real blue people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Libraries instituted by President Roosevelt, this is a compelling, sweet, sad and ultimately uplifting story of Cussy Mary, one of the last blue people living in the holler who also serves as a pack horse librarian. Through her deliveries, we get to know the people on her route -- almost all of them impoverished but with an intense love of the written word. We see her growth as a 19-year-old girl whose mother is dead and her father is a miner as she takes pride in her job, despite the ridicule she receives from the bigoted folks who live in town. She holds her head high and continues to bring comfort through books to her charges.

At first, I found the book a little slow to get into...but once I did, I couldn't stop. I realized how important it was for the author to set the foundation of Gussy's life and the people in it so I could then see how all the pieces fit together at the end (and they all do).

The narration is phenomenal as Katie Schorr does a tremendous job. Her performance is believable and understandable and she brings such emotion to all of the characters. Her narration was a true benefit to this book.

This book is profound in its themes and sweet in its sentiments.

248 people found this helpful

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  • Debbie
  • 20-09-19

Kentucky Coal Mines, Blue People and Books!

This is one of the most fascinating historical fiction books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading/listening to. Based on the true story of Roosevelt’s WPA (Works Progress Administration) Project, 1936-1943, the Packhorse Librarians of eastern Kentucky took books, magazines and newspapers to rural, hard to access regions on horseback, braving weather of all sorts. They delivered much more than reading materials, however, they brought friendship, medicine and word from other folks to the deeply secluded folks, who could, many times not get out themselves. They read to children, bandaged wounds, fed people. And sometimes, as in the case of Cussy Mary Carter, the job itself, became what saved her. The ways of the coal miners and their families and suspicions of Appalachian folks were ingrained deeply. And added to that was the fact that Cussy Mary and her father were “Blues”. Thinking to provide for her and keep her safe, should something happen to him in the mines, Cussy Mary’s daddy arranged a marriage for her, which turned out to be a disaster. His love and care for her afterward, and her continued work as the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek makes for a tale of devotion, yet filled with hardships. The people that Cussy Mary meets and serves on her route will amaze you, but not as much as the she will. Don’t miss this tale of strength and perseverance that is unlike any that you will ever come across again!

121 people found this helpful

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  • Heather Breslin
  • 15-05-19

Wonderful story, wonderful performance

This book is so well researched and written, it was hard to get out of the car sometimes. The characters were portrayed with tenderness and depth and I was easily brought into their stories. I am grateful for having gotten it on audible, as the narrators enunciation and accent leant so much to the story. Highly recommend

99 people found this helpful

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  • MissSusie66
  • 05-06-19

Loved it!

It was really interesting to learn more about the pack horse librarians of Kentucky and to hear about the love of reading they instilled in so many people that maybe never would have had access to books had it not been for these women. Also to hear about the people (men) trying to discourage their families from reading was frustrating but she handled it so well! Also to learn about the blue folk, so sad to learn they were treated as colored, if not with even more suspicion.

I loved this book it is beautifully written and the heroine Cussy/Blueet/Bookwoman (whichever name you call her) is a very strong woman through so much adversity. I loved how she handled her job and the people she meets along the way. The racism she goes through is terrible, one doesn’t realize that they weren’t considered to have a medical problem they were considered colored. And remember this is the 1930’s so she has many hits against her already but she is so strong and strong willed and nothing is going to stop her living the life she wants to live!

This is my first book by this author but surely won’t be my last!

This was also my first book narrated by Katie Schorr who did a fabulous job at the southern accent ad all the voices. I will definitely pick up another one of her narrations!

I highly recommend this book to book lovers, historical fiction fans and anyone who likes a well told story!

4 ½ Stars

57 people found this helpful

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  • Melinda E.
  • 28-09-19

Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I enjoy books based on history and this one piqued my interest. I recently started to look into my family history on my father's side. This part of my family came from the hills of Kentucky, and this book is centered around that area, I had heard of the blue folks of Kentucky and thought it was just a story. This book intrigued me further. The story was very believable and drew me in from the beginning. I found that the way the people in the book looked at life, the way they handled what came, the way they spoke, as well as the use of old home remedies were very familiar and reminded me so much of my grandmother. I am glad that I listened to this audio book.

81 people found this helpful

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  • Shannon
  • 09-05-19

A fascinating look at history

I am so glad I picked this up. The author brings this little-known period of history to vivid life. The narration is skilled and authentic.

41 people found this helpful

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  • Kim
  • 24-05-19

Very Highly Recommended

This exquisite story brings not only heartfelt prose to living history; it touches on and elaborates daily human strengths and suffering in a way that only good literature can. I love books about Appalachia and the hard scrabble families of the mountains and "hollers". Very highly recommended. Can't wait for the next one to come out!

36 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle Bean
  • 03-09-19

One of the BEST

This story is well written and touches on so many aspects of life. A favorite.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Linda G McDonough
  • 25-11-19

A Tedious Story

This book sounded really good and I listened for 3 hours thinking it would get better but it never did. To summarize the first 3 hours: young woman delivers books on a mule and bad things happen to her by cruel and revolting characters. I feel bad for her but after 3 hours I didn’t feel I knew anything about her except that she has blue skin and is a victim of discrimination, tragedy, and horrific and vile men. No character development. When I finally put the book down, I found that I had no desire or even curiosity as to what happened next nor the desire to read any further. I liked the narrator and stilled dialogue less and less with each passing minute which created an overall affect of torturous tedium. I finally threw in the towel and returned the book.

9 people found this helpful