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Miss Morgan's Book Brigade

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade, May 2024
by Janet Skeslien Charles

Atria Books
Featuring: Wendy Peterson; Jessie Carson
336 pages
ISBN: 166800898X
EAN: 9781668008980
Kindle: B0CL5G456V
Hardcover / e-Book / audiobook
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"The Book Warriors"

Fresh Fiction Review

Miss Morgan's Book Brigade
Janet Skeslien Charles

Reviewed by Bharti C
Posted April 26, 2024

Women's Fiction Time Slip | Women's Fiction Historical

MISS MORGAN'S BOOK BRIGADE by Janet Skeslien Charles. The book is based on the true story of Miss Anne Morgan and her team of volunteers who were based close to the frontline in France during WWI. You can read more about their work on the Morgan Museum's website here.

In MISS MORGAN'S BOOK BRIGADE, we follow the work done by New York Public Library children's librarian Jessie Carson. Jessie wants to do her bit and get away from a critical boss at the New York Public Library and when she's offered a chance to work as a librarian with Miss Morgan's organisation in France she jumps at it. Soon on her way to France, Jessie is equally excited and anxious about her future in France with books as her only shred of comfort.

It is the middle of the war, early in 1918 when Jessie goes to France to set up a library for the residents living on the edge of the frontline with French and German soldiers at war. The village of Blerancourt is where the team has set up its base in a house owned by Miss Morgan. Once Jessie is settled she starts building up a rapport with her fellow Cards, as the team members are known to everyone and the remaining village folk.


It is a tough start to her 2 year contract with the Cards but she perseveres and pioneers doing everything she came to do and more. Jessie Carson not only brings books and stories to the young children around them but she also thrives herself. Coming from a protective home, a critically demanding boss who mostly suppressed Jessie, in France, she comes into her own and does wonders for herself and the people of war-torn areas around their base. She continues her work even after peace is declared with excellent results as she goes on to build history in France for female librarians.

We follow Jessie's life for a few couple years of her time in France. We get to know where she comes from, and how she reaches France and achieves what she does till her time and work is done around 1924. However, after the inspiring work of Jessie and the Cards, it makes one curious and while there is some information about the team online there's still much left out. It left me empty as I wanted to know more about Jessie and the other Cards' lives after they returned to the US. We get a summarised version highlight of them but almost nothing about Jessie, whom we follow and watch her work during the Great War.

MISS MORGAN'S BOOK BRIGADE gives us a glimpse of how books and a librarian heal people and though she takes on more besides books they remain at the centre of every deed she and the team do. We see up close the magic of books whether it is solo reading or building a conversation around books between two or more people.

I was unaware of this side of the war where women were doing amazing work, it's hardly written about. I know because books on life during the war are one of my favourite tropes to binge-read. Reading about Jessie Carson and the Cards in this book is a pleasant surprise and awe-inspiring, the scale of work and personal differences these women made in the lives of people torn by war. It is tough work to gain trust, and develop a community based on mutual benefits in a society ravaged by war where there's so little hope and will in people's lives.

Pick up a copy of MISS MORGAN'S BOOK BRIGADE to read about American women who worked in war-torn France during the Great War and created safe places, and sanctuaries for people of every age.

Learn more about Miss Morgan's Book Brigade


The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the “captivating, richly drawn” (Woman’s World) The Paris Library returns with a brilliant new novel based on the true story of Jessie Carson—the American librarian who changed the literary landscape of France.

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.

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