I guess, it was the fact, that this book is about the Carnegie libraries and the background of how one was built in Kansas, that I wanted this book in the first place. While reading, I discovered that it was more about three women, which had to deal with their current situation in life. No question, every figure had one unique story to tell, but in the end, I couldn´t go with the excitement and hype this novel had originally produced among other book lovers. Yes, the story is diverse and has some pages where I loved every written word. On the other hand, it also made me shake my head because some figures are so pale and unadventurous.

Die Bücherfrauen*
by Romalyn Tilghman
Translation Britt-Somann-Jung
Original Title To The Stars Through Difficulties
Publisher Fischer TB on December 14, 2022
Genre Novel
Pages 374
Format Paperback
Source Fischer TB

In Prairie Hill, a small town somewhere in Kansas, the lives of three women cross: Angelina, Traci and Gayle are at a turning point. As improbable as their acquaintance is, they quickly become indispensable to one another. At the end of the world, the three of them find a new meaning in life and their own personal happiness behind the facade of the library - and realize what tremendous power can awaken from the community.
Angelina, Traci, and Gayle want to start all over again. While Traci is running from her old life, and Angelina needs to finish a project she´s had ten years in the making, Gayle wants nothing more but to get her life back, after a tornado destroyed everything, she´s called her life and home. A wall, the one that survived the tornado, is what gives them the strength to continue with their daily lives and to start making new plans.

This novel shows mostly quiet tones. The author shows in a sensitive way how women in different ages fight for what is important to them. Different means are used for this. Because what was considered a woman's all-purpose weapon around 1900 is no longer so easily applicable today. And above all hangs the written word of an old lady who, even after her death, still knows how to tame her opponents.

The family background that one of the three main characters (Angelina) brings to this novel fascinated me in the end, but also bored me a little for large parts of the story. The language is kept simple. It was a good read, but I was missing that certain something. Certainly, the historical facts, which the author incorporated into the novel with great skill and in a very entertaining manner, were wonderful to read. But I still don't understand exactly what the problem of Angelina's old mentor at her university was.

I've been confused for a long time. The characters are drawn into the scene quite quickly by the author. Gayle is still dealing with the aftermath of the tornado that destroyed everything she once called her life and home. Traci has literally fled her New York life and is a total stranger to family roots. And Angelina has a last-minute panic just before her birthday and wants to finally put an end to something that has been bothering her for ten years.

On the one hand, the author shows very sensitively how the three women deal with their respective situations, which I really liked. On the other hand, too many stereotypes are used here and patriotism is shown in large numbers. Life in the small town is characterized on the one hand by conservative people and on the other hand by those who have the courage to try something new and think outside the box. Above all is the strength and will of a few women who do not want to accept their fate.

Friendship, cohesion, loyalty, and the power of love are interwoven here to create a love story about the book. In the middle of the vastness of Kansas, where the staid small-town life meets the big world. The novel touched me on the one hand, but on the other hand, it didn't appeal to me at all. In the end, my judgment is mixed. It's best to read it yourself and make your own judgment.

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Fischer TB in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review.

Deutsche Rezension

Dieser Roman zeigt überwiegend die leisen Töne. Die Autorin zeigt auf feinfühlige Weise, wie die Frauen in unterschiedlichen Zeitaltern für das kämpfen, was ihnen wichtig ist. Dabei werden unterschiedliche Mittel verwendet. Denn was um 1900 als Allzweckwaffe der Frau galt, ist in der Gegenwart nicht mehr so ohne Weiteres anwendbar. Und über allem hängt das geschriebene Wort einer alten Dame, die auch nach ihrem Tod noch ihre Gegner zu bändigen weiß.

Der familiäre Hintergrund, den eine der drei Hauptfiguren (Angelina) in diesen Roman mitbringt, hat mich zwar am Ende fasziniert, über weite Teile der Geschichte aber auch leicht gelangweilt. Die Sprache ist einfach gehalten. Gut zu lesen und doch hat mir das gewisse Etwas gefehlt. Sicher, die geschichtlichen Fakten, die die Autorin mit großem Können sehr unterhaltsam in den Roman eingebunden hat, waren herrlich zu lesen. Aber mir ist bis jetzt nicht klar, was genau das Problem von Angelinas altem Mentor an ihrer Universität eigentlich war.

Ich bin lange verwirrt gewesen. Die Figuren werden von der Autorin recht schnell in Szene gesetzt. Gayle hat noch mit den Nachwirkungen des Tornados zu kämpfen, der alles zerstörte, was sie einst ihr Leben und Heim nannte. Traci ist buchstäblich aus ihrem New Yorker Leben geflohen und familiäre Wurzeln sind ihr absolut fremd. Und Angelina hat kurz vor ihrem Geburtstag so etwas wie Torschlusspanik und will endlich einen Schlusspunkt unter etwas setzen, das sie schon seit zehn Jahren beschäftigt.

Die Autorin zeigt einerseits sehr feinfühlig, wie die drei Frauen mit ihrer jeweiligen Situation umgehen, was mir sehr gefallen hat. Auf der anderen Seite wird hier aber auch zu sehr in Stereoptypen gesprochen und Patriotismus in großen Mengen gezeigt. Das Leben in der Kleinstadt ist einerseits von biederen Menschen geprägt, andererseits von denen, die den Mut haben, etwas Neues auszuprobieren und über den Tellerrand hinauszublicken. Über allem steht die Kraft und der Wille einiger weniger Frauen, die sich nicht mit ihrem Schicksal abfinden wollen.

Freundschaft, Zusammenhalt, Loyalität und die Kraft der Liebe sind hier miteinander zu einer Liebesgeschichte über das Buch verwoben. Mitten in der Weite von Kansas, wo das biedere Kleinstadtleben auf die große Welt trifft. Der Roman hat mich einerseits berührt, andererseits aber auch so gar nicht angesprochen. Am Ende ist mein Urteil durchwachsen. Am besten selbst lesen und sich ein eigenes Urteil bilden.

*This book was published in the English language by She Writes Press on April 4, 2017 

Romalyn Tilghman
Romalyn Tilghman ©private

Romalyn Tilghman has worked in cultural funding all her life. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, she ran a cultural advancement association in Kansas. Throughout her career, she has served in rural cultural groups across the United States. In her daily work, she witnesses groups of mostly women fighting for culture in the most remote corners of the country. »The Book Women« is her first novel. It became the surprise hit of the independent publisher She Writes Press and won numerous awards. Today Romalyn Tilghman lives in Los Angeles, USA.



  1. It sounds interesting but at the same time sorry to hear it didn't entirely work for you.

    Hope you had a nice holiday

    1. Well, sometimes it happens. It is a solid novel and another reader might like it. It just wasn´t for me *sigh*


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