The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek follows the life of 19-year-old Cussy Mary, the last of her kind, in the hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression. Blue-skinned Cussy endures many hardships in her young life, but her saving grace is being a librarian for the Pack Horse Library Project. Her patrons and the books she can deliver to them mean the world to her. Traveling miles through treacherous terrain is nothing compared to the bigotry and threats her and her family face from the townsfolk. Through it all, Cussy Mary shows us what bravery and determination are. Kim Michele Richardson brings us an unforgettable historical novel full of heart with a gutsy heroine to boot!— Jen Steele
In The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Richardson’s often lyrical and evocative writing creates a visually stunning and emotionally tumultuous narrative of a young woman seeking to care for those around her in a truly inspiring and empathetic manner. Bluet faces the brutality of those around her and returns only love. This book promises to be significant for book clubs, as it offers much to discuss with respect to prejudice, subjugation of women, the devastating effects of abject poverty, and the salvation which comes from approaching the world with a sensitivity toward finding the commonality in the struggles faced by all of humanity. I am sure this book will make its way onto all of the important lists.— Scott Espinoza
The power of reading between the pages of a book is reflected in this little known story of Roosevelt’s Depression Era Pack Horse Library Project. Nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter enjoys spending her days delivering not only ‘words’ in books and reading materials to readers in the outlying areas of eastern Kentucky, but also offering her own ‘words’ of comfort and encouragement to people yearning to escape the bleak existence of these remote Appalachian hills and hollows. In spite of being the carrier of a rare genetic trait that causes a bluing of her skin and having to withstand the harsh racial discrimination of being a nonwhite outcast, Cussy takes refuge in her job as a librarian and in her “I have my books” attitude! This well researched historical fiction is so compassionately drawn that every reader’s heart will be touched by the indomitable spirit that fires Cussy’s inner life. Reminiscent of Paulette Jiles News of the World, this is a totally absorbing reading experience. Perfect for book club.— Jane Glaser
Kim Michelle Richardson's novel is steeped in emotion, drama, and imagery. The protagonist, Cussy Mary, is from a family with a rare hereditary gene that gives her blue pigmentation in her skin, making her the ultimate other in an already segregated society. In the Appalachian country of 1930s Kentucky, the reader follows Cussy's life at a moment in time that is fraught with issues of women's rights, civil rights, and human rights in general. Through the power of books, love, and compassion, Cussy Mary stands as a heroine against all that is hateful and oppressive with selfless generosity and a determination to live in peace. At this moment that is captured, Richardson illustrates for readers the beauty and depth of Troublesome Creek from the trees to the fireflies. She affords this detailed imagery and feeling to the development of every character. What the reader is left with are incredibly soulful and complex characters that span the entire spectrum of human emotion. She draws out the best and worst in humanity, resulting in a rich novel of theatrical and poetic making and a heart wrenching story of one woman's resilience. I highly recommend.— Rose Camara
May 2019 Indie Next List
“I loved this wonderful story about Cussy Mary, a pack horse librarian in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and one of the last of the blue-skinned people of that area. As Cussy faces pressure to marry and difficulties maintaining her arduous book route through twisty and dangerous mountain passes, she earns the respect of the mountain people she serves so faithfully. Beautifully written and heartbreaking at times, this is a story I will never forget.”
— Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop, Midlothian, VA
RECOMMENDED BY DOLLY PARTON IN PEOPLE MAGAZINE!
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
A LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
The bestselling historical fiction novel from Kim Michele Richardson, this is a novel following Cussy Mary, a packhorse librarian and her quest to bring books to the Appalachian community she loves, perfect for readers of William Kent Kreuger and Lisa Wingate. The perfect addition to your next book club!
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.
Look for The Book Woman's Daughter, the new novel from Kim Michele Richardson, out now!
Other Bestselling Historical Fiction from Sourcebooks Landmark:
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
The Engineer's Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood
Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris
About the Author
NEW YORK TIMES, LOS ANGELES TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kim Michele Richardson, is a multiple-award winning author who has written five works of historical fiction, and a bestselling memoir. Kim Michele was born and raised in Kentucky and lives there with her family and beloved dogs. She is also the founder of Shy Rabbit, a writers residency and scholarship implemented for low-income writers. To learn more, please visit Kim Michele on her Facebook page and or website at www.kimmichelerichardson.com
"Richardson's latest work is a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and - just as importantly - a compassionate human connection. Richardson's rendering of stark poverty against the ferocity of the human spirit is irresistible. Add to this the history of the unique and oppressed blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and you've got an un-put-downable work that holds real cultural significance." — Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
"This is Richardson’s finest, as beautiful and honest as it is fierce and heart-wrenching, THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK explores the fascinating and unique blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave Packhorse librarians. A timeless and significant tale about poverty, intolerance and how books can bring hope and light to even the darkest pocket of history." — Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar Temptress Soldier Spy
"Emotionally resonant and unforgettable, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a lush love letter to the redemptive power of books. It is by far my favorite KMR book—and I am her huge fan. Cussy Mary is an indomitable and valiant heroine, and through her true-blue eyes, 1930s Kentucky comes to vivid and often harrowing life. Richardson's dialogue is note-perfect; Cussy Mary's voice is still ringing in my head, and the sometimes dark story she tells highlights such gorgeous, glowing grace notes that I was often moved to hopeful tears. " — Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Almost Sisters
"Kim Michele Richardson has written a fascinating novel about people almost forgotten by history: Kentucky’s pack-horse librarians and "blue people." The factual information alone would make this book a treasure, but with her impressive storytelling and empathy, Richardson gives us so much more." — Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of One Foot in Eden and Serena
"A rare literary adventure that casts librarians as heroes, smart tough women on horseback in rough terrain doing the brave and hard work of getting the right book into the right hands. Richardson has weaved an inspiring tale about the power of literature." — Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh and Queen of the Night
"With a focus on the personal joy and broadened horizons that can result from access to reading material, this well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky. A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word." — Kirkus Reviews
"This gem of a historical from Richardson (The Sisters of Glass Ferry) features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. In 1936, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter works for the New Deal–funded Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading material to the rural people of Kentucky...Readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of rural Kentucky life." — Publishers Weekly
"Readers will respond to quiet Cussy's steel spine...And book groups who like to explore lesser-known aspects of American history will be fascinated." — Booklist
"Richardson has penned an emotionally moving and fascinating story about the power of literacy over bigotry, hatred and fear." — BookPage
"A powerful yet heartfelt story that gives readers a privileged glimpse into an impoverished yet rigidly hierarchical society, this time by shining a light on the courageous, dedicated women who brought books and hope to those struggling to survive on its lowest rung. Strongly recommended." — Historical Novel Society
"The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a timely and necessary novel, certain to find an enthusiastically loyal following among book clubs, for whom it offers myriad opportunities for engagement, and with librarians and library patrons, for whom it is a heartrending hero’s tale. " — The Charleston Post & Courier
"The novel serves as a testament to the power of the written word, arguing that words can traverse barriers between class, race and individual differences." — Deep South Magazine
"Based on true stories from different times (the blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the WPA’s Pack Horse Librarians), this novel packs a lot of hot topics into one narrative. Perfect for book clubs." — Library Journal