This one passed just under my radar not too long ago, until some in our book-crew touted it as their “Best of May”. Admittedly, the cover didn’t quite catch my eye (even though I KNOW this author is much loved by many in our indie-romance world – especially her biker books). It was on my “new release” list, yet somehow I missed it for my own TBR list. Was it the cover? The “historical romance” aspect (which isn’t normal “my thing”)? I dunno, but OMG this one needs to be highlighted and I AM SO thankful to my book-buds for highlighting it for me!!
Jan: my best read of May. Hands down, it was Carry The World, Susan Fanetti’s latest book. A really beautiful read. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Depression-era Appalachians. A lonely widowed mountain man with two kids has a slow-burn romance with a lonely widow who visits his remote farm once a fortnight to deliver free library books for his kids. Makes you cry and smile and feel warm inside.
Linda: Jan I agree!! LOVED this read. One of my May favorites!!
Mari: I agree with Jan and Linda. Carry the World was the best book I read in May. I’ll definitely read it again.
Maryse: I want to thank Jan, Linda and Mari for adamantly recommended their 5-star May favorite, “Carry the World“. I am devouring it as we speak, and absolutely in love with it. It’s not my usual genre (the story is taking place during the Depression era) but the rest of it totally screams MY THING!! It’s about a librarian that delivers books to those living reclusively in the mountains and there’s one grieving single father of 2 little ones that she’s particularly fond of. Oh I AM IN LOVE with this book!!!
Robyn: OMG Maryse! I’m reading Carry The World also. Can I just say…best book of 2019 so far. I’m in love with books set in rural Appalachia. Maybe it’s my inner Justified coming out. The Idea of a Pack Horse Librarian is new and exciting to read about. Who knew those existed? Plus, throw in some romance, great writing that takes you there and Wha-la, we have book crack! Can you tell I’m really excited about his book? LOL
Maryse: YAY!!!! Buddy reading together! I’m so happy Robyn!!! And absolutely I will let you know how I’m loving it. My aunt reminded me again last night when I told her how good Carry the World was.
Robyn: I just finished Carry The World. One of my Best of 2019. My heart is happy and full. I loved the story that Susan Fanetti created centered around a Pack Horse Librarian in rural Appalachia, in the 1930’s. Life was so hard and unforgiving, but the people who lived high up in the hollars of Kentucky, were some of the happiest. The love of family and hearth was of utmost importance. They didn’t know they were impoverished, they just lived and loved. Such a heartwarming book. It made me want to be a Pack Horse Librarian and live in the world SF’s words created. I this book.
Teri: OMG, that sounds so endearing!
Michele G: I’m absolutely going to have to read this!!
Marion: Carry the world was very well written and seemly well researched. The connections between the characters were so vivid. Definitely on the best of 2019 list.
Linda: Maryse making me happy you’re loving on Carry the World. Such a great story plus a history lesson!!
Jeri: Beautiful read….5 stars from me
Leah: Such a great book, I enjoyed it so much and the story stayed in my mind long after I finished reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it
I savored every single word, no skimming required. I don’t know what it is about Depression/Wartime era historicals, but there’s something so comforting in losing myself into a much simpler time, when things were scarce and luxuries were available only to a precious few, yet… folks were content and proud of what they had and what they could do, and what they could share.
There’s something about living in a world where people are using every single available resource to their fullest capacity. Creatively, ingeniously, upcycling items, growing their foods, caring for livestock (and treating them like their own lives depend on them… which they did), trading goods and services… so much hard work and dedication, yet thriving despite the dire circumstances.
Living focused, but with the love and cooperation of family, being able to depend on the townsfolk, and neighbors in trading goods and talents. A true sense of community. I’m always amazed at how much happiness and comfort and peace can come to those that, to us, seem to be lacking in so much creature comforts.
Do I want to live that way? No. I so appreciate and am so thankful of everything we have… in incredible abundance (so much so that we tend to waste the very resources that make our lives so comfortable). And maybe this is my “balance”. I do my best to reuse and then if not reusable… recycle. But do I love “experiencing” a world where every single thing is precious and cared for. And with so much simplicity comes a wonderful attention to the love of togetherness.
And this book was exactly that. The author didn’t just teach is a history lesson. She brought that world to life, allowing us to live in a beautiful love story while seeing the world through a different set of eyes.
So what’s it about?
Ada is a young teacher, grieving her recently deceased husband, having moved back home to care for her aging parents as the “Great Depression” hits them ALL hard. Sure, she has the creature comforts of electricity, a motor vehicle, and running water, but the vehicle has stopped working (they’re back to horse and buggy), the crops have not been prolific, the markets are not offering much for what they DO grow, and she’s lost her job.
First she’d lost her husband, then she’d lost his family farm. Now she was living with her parents again, and they were about to lose everything, too. And they weren’t unique. Every family all around them had the same story, or near enough like it. This world was nothing but loss, black and wide and deep.
Rich men had played gamblers’ games with the stock market and sent the whole country reeling.
It seemed to Ada like the people hurt the worst had hardly even heard of the stock market, much less invested in it, but they were the ones starving nonetheless.
But she soon finds out about a government program paying good wages to those willing to work their way up the treacherous mountainside to bring books and magazines (and exchange books and magazines) with secluded folks that have limited access to today’s world. In essence, these librarian postal carriers are carrying the world to THEM. GAH!!! I LOVE THAT!!!
It didn’t take much to understand what the job would be—riding up into the mountains, to the one-room schoolhouses and homesteads up in the hollers, where people lived who couldn’t get down to towns like Callwood. She had taught up in a holler, so she knew. Most of those people were illiterate and didn’t care about any book but the Bible, but they had children, and those children deserved to know the magic of books.
Ada was literate—more than that, she was educated. She was healthy. She had excellent horseback skills. In fact, her best friend was a horse. She and Henrietta could be librarians.
Because not only does she get this amazing (yet very difficult job), enabling her to help support her family, but she gets to meet the mountain-folk (some so thankful to have her company and her teaching their children and reading these books to them – although some shoo her off their property at gun point).
“We go to every home, wherever it is. And it’s more than dropping off books and collecting what they borrowed the last time. People want news, and companionship. Others, they don’t trust us, and it’s our responsibility to build that trust. Some people can’t read and want to learn. Others just want to listen. We are bringing more than books to these people, Mrs. Donovan. We are carrying the world to them.”
And then she meets a grieving reclusive widower that is raising his two tiny children on his own. The young ones may be uneducated in terms of proper schooling, but so willing to learn, and so happy to meet her. Him? Not so much. 😉 Yet.
“That’s Pa,” Elijah said. “He’ll be takin’ your horse to shelter, outta the rain.”
“That’s very kind of him. I’d like to make your father’s acquaintance.”
“Pa don’t like people,” Bluebird said, brushing her little fingers over Ada’s cheek.
Oh my friends, I am leaving the rest of the tale there for you to discover.
Hardships, and social issues aplenty!! But WOW what an all-encompassing story of love, loss, pain and happiness. It’s ALL there (and not always in that order). I love how it starts. I love how we’re introduced to this amazing story, as I think each of us has uncovered bits of our own family’s past in similar ways (there’s so much more to our grandparents and great-grandparents that we didn’t know – that makes them so real even if we haven’t ever had the chance to meet them… or KNOW them in their “prime”).
But most of all, I love how it ends.
This strange house was turning out to be her best stop of the day.
4.5 STARS!!! <— LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! MORE MORE MORE!!!!