Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade by Janet Skeslien Charles - 2024 - 324 pages

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade by Janet Skeslien Charles - 2024 - 324 pages

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade is a wonderful book.

It has two interrelated settings, rural France and Paris during the German invasion in World War One and New York City in the 1980s.

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, daughter of J. P. Morgan. this group of international women help rebuild destroyed French communities just miles from the front. Upon arrival, Jessie strives to establish something that the French have never seen—children’s libraries. Jessie Carson turns ambulances into bookmobiles and trains the first French female librarians. Miss Morgan appears to have a romantic relationship with another woman in the group, known as Doctor M. Most of the group participants come from affluent families that pay their expenses. Miss Carson gets a salary. At first social standing back in America is very important, but slowly bonds are formed. The women must learn to cope with the horrible devastation of the war. Some develop relationships with soldiers, knowing any day can bring their death.

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. Jessie deals with library policies, loves working with books and finds a boyfriend.

There are lots of delightful literary references. The descriptions of the impact of the war were very powerful. There are a number of letters which help carry the plot.

I found the ending emotionally satisfying

"Based on the extraordinary little-known history of the women who received the Croix de Guerre medal for courage under fire, Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, the power of literature, and ultimately the courage it takes to make a change." From the Publisher 

"Janet Skeslien Charles is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Paris Library. Her work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. She has spent a decade researching Jessie Carson (Miss Morgan’s Book Brigade) at The Morgan Library, the NYPL, and archives across France. Her shorter work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Sydney Morning Herald, LitHub, and the anthology Montana Noir." From Simon and Schuster


Lisbeth said...

Sounds like another cosy read taking place in France.

Buried In Print said...

This sounds a little like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, if you know that one, maybe? Wartime setting, bookish, courage, alliances and determination in the face of injustice...all that. It's kind of light, but kind of not, if that makes sense.