Monday, April 29, 2024

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade by Janet Skeslien Charles

1918: As the Great War rages, Jessie Carson takes a leave of absence from the New York Public Library to work for the American Committee for Devastated France. Founded by millionaire Anne Morgan, this group of international women help rebuild devastated French communities just miles from the front. Upon arrival, Jessie strives to establish something that the French have never seen—children’s libraries. She turns ambulances into bookmobiles and trains the first French female librarians. Then she disappears.

1987: When NYPL librarian and aspiring writer Wendy Peterson stumbles across a passing reference to Jessie Carson in the archives, she becomes consumed with learning her fate. In her obsessive research, she discovers that she and the elusive librarian have more in common than their work at New York’s famed library, but she has no idea their paths will converge in surprising ways across time.

Kindle, 352 pages
Expected publication April 30, 2024
 by Atria Books
3/5 stars

I loved the author's first book, The Paris Library, a story about forgotten women in history. I anticipated the same thing with Miss Morgan's Book Brigade (yea its a mouthful) and that is what I got. 

It’s near the end of the World War 1 when Jessie Carson, a 40-year-old library employee, is accepted by the daughter of JP Morgan into the CARD program. CARD - American Committee for Devastated France.  I have never heard of this program before and was treated to a glimpse of women helping restore France after the war.

There are things I enjoyed about this book, mostly the lesson in the effort of  American, Canadian and Australian women doing their part to restore France.  The library program was used to connect with those left with nothing, the war took more then just the men. It was great to see the importance of reading and how it affected the women in France, who were left alone as a result of the war.

There were also things I struggled with, mostly this was a tell story with a number of info dumps. I had to remind myself many times that this was a 40-year-old woman while her character did not always feel like it. It was slow paced and the timeline for 1987 was sparse though finally at the end everything fit together.

All in all an informative read that I liked.

My thanks to Atria Books for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

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