Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade

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“As long as I could return to the library in my mind, I felt I could face whatever came.”

An engaging historical drama, beginning in 1918, opening the door on a little-known group of women, female volunteers with the American Committee for Devastated France (abbreviated as “CARDs”when translated from the French), whose tireless efforts and incredible bravery saw them working in war-ravaged northern France to rebuild communities, forty short miles from the very active warfront, deep in the throes of WW1.

Jessie “Kit” Carson, our first person narrator, is a librarian, initially based in NYC, with a shrewish boss and a fierce desire to contribute more. Held back by her times, gender, lowly status and financial straits, Jessie finds a way, first through volunteer work with the National League for women’s service, and then through CARDs, to join the war effort and bring solace and comfort to soldier and citizens through the lifeline provided by books.

Backed and led by Anne Morgan, heir to the JP Morgan fortune, and her partner, Dr Anne Murray Dike, the experiences of the CARD organization (formerly unknown to this reader), and its members, makes for fascinating reading.

As Kit’s journey unfolds, the author weaves in a second first-person voice, based in 1987, featuring Wendy Peterson, a struggling wannabe NYC author who comes to learn of Kit’s story, and that of her sisters in the CARDs, and finds herself caught up in the re-telling of it.

An interesting, often heartbreaking (and sometimes surprising) recounting of a group of wonderful women — unsung heroes — whose compassionate efforts, and incredible impacts, helped shape countless lives, as well as, ultimately, the French library system.

A great big thank you to the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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