A Kansas Notable Book of the Year, 2018
Andrew Carnegie funded fifty-nine public libraries in Kansas in the early 20th centurybut it was frontier women who organized waffle suppers, minstrel shows, and women's baseball games to buy books to fill them. Now, a century later, Angelina returns to her father's hometown of New Hope to complete her dissertation on the Carnegie libraries, just as Traci and Gayle arrive in townTraci as an artist-in-residence at the renovated Carnegie Arts Center and Gayle as a refugee whose neighboring town, Prairie Hill, has just been destroyed by a tornado.
The discovery of an old journal inspires the women to create a library and arts center as the first act of rebuilding Prairie Hill after the tornado. As they work together to raise money for the center, Traci reveals her enormous heart, Angelina discovers that problem-solving is more valuable than her PhD, and Gayle demonstrates that courage is not about waiting out a storm but building a future. Full of Kansas historyfrom pioneer homesteaders to Carrie Nation to orphan trains To the Stars through Difficulties is a contemporary story of women changing their world, and finding their own voices, powers, and self-esteem in the process.
|Publisher:||She Writes Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Romalyn Tilghman is a freelance writer and consultant in arts management. She earned BA and MS degrees from the University of Kansas and has studied writing through UCLA’s Writers Program. To the Stars through Difficulties is her first novel, inspired by her work as Executive Director of the Association of Community Arts Councils of Kansas, and then as Regional Representative for the National Endowment for the Arts. Since then, she has consulted with private foundations, government agencies, and performing arts groups, and served on national boards and panels. She lives in Southern California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author weaves a factual view of the struggles and success in rural America in the establishment of 550 Carnegy libraries contrasted and woven with contemporary events and drama. Human interest is well developed in the relationships of the leading characters.
This book reminds us of the importance of libraries, the arts and communities. Very different characters come together to find their strengths and in doing so they find a place to call home. What I would call a "feel good" book.
Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman is a story that espouses the human spirit and the values of community; a story with a beautiful setting and characters that will make readers think about what they are doing for their community; a story that revolves around three powerful women and their commitment to bring change to their community by creating an arts center and a library. After the devastation of Prairie Hill by a tornado, Gayle is determined to rebuild her town and to bring life back to it. Angelina is in Kansas for her PhD dissertation, but soon discovers that solving a family mystery could be more important than writing a dissertation. Traci is an artist in residence at the Carnegie Arts Center and her inspiration is about to change the lives of young people in her community. Read on to discover how these three women put together their skills to bring life and culture to their community. To the Stars Through Difficulties is women's fiction at its best, a story that showcases the role that women play in their communities in a brilliant manner. It’s a story about courage, problem-solving skills, generosity, and resilience. As one reads through the stories, one gets a clear idea of the role that libraries play in community building. The story is told in the first person narrative and from the perspectives of the three women. The prose is wonderfully crafted, charming and heartwarming, and the reader is irresistibly pulled in as they follow each character through the engaging story. The setting comes across vividly and it can’t be difficult for the reader to fit themselves into the story. Romalyn Tilghman is a gifted storyteller with an unusual skill for crafting characters that take a prominent place in the hearts of readers. A wonderful and satisfying read!
I volunteer at the Book Cellar, a used bookstore located in the basement of the Webster Library on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The Webster Library is one of the original Carnegie libraries, built in 1905. Andrew Carnegie gave money to build nearly 1700 libraries across the country, many in small towns like the town of New Hope, Kansas, the setting for Romalyn Tilghman's novel To The Stars Through Difficulties. The novel opens with a newspaper clipping of a an EF-5 tornado that destroyed the entire town of nearby Prairie Hill, where the only thing left standing was one wall of the old Carnegie Library. The story is told through the eyes of three women- Gayle, a woman who lost her home in the tornado, Angelina, who is writing her PhD thesis on Carnegie libraries, and Traci, an artist from New York who relocates to New Hope for the promise of a job teaching at an art center, formerly a Carnegie library in New Hope. (I did not realize that many small town libraries were turned into media/arts centers in the 1970s.) Angelina's grandmother lived in New Hope and she played a major role in procuring money from Andrew Carnegie to build a library there. Some of the most interesting sections of the book tell the story of how the women in the town banded together to raise the necessary funds to get the grant. Those women would let nothing stand in their way in their determination to get a library for their town, not their husbands, and in Angelina's grandmother's case, not the expectations of what a woman is capable of doing or the opinions of others as to how to accomplish that. Angelina needs this trip to complete her thesis. The family print shop she ran with her late father is about to close, her mother is not supportive of her goal, and it has taken her too long to get this far academically. Traci is a fish out of water in New Hope. She is a young woman from a big city, and she has nothing to lose. Her new job is tenuous, and depends on the town to raise funds for her salary. She finds it hard to relate to the women in this town, and the troubled teens she is charged with teaching challenge her in many ways. To The Stars Through Difficulties is the motto of the state of Kansas, and it is the perfect title for this wonderful book. It is about women banding together to create something lasting, something that will better their communtity and the people who live there. It is a story about women empowering themselves. We see how much Angelina's grandmother's generation and the women of today have in common. They set a goal and come hell or high water, it was going to be achieved. I enjoyed seeing how supportive the women were of each other, even while being wary of each other at times. The characters are so realistic, and those who long for small town living will truly appreciate To The Stars Through Difficulties. When I was a child, I loved The Little House On The Prairie books, and this felt like a modern, grown-up version of the those books. I got the same warm feelings reading To The Stars Through Difficulties. I highly recommend To The Stars Through Difficulties.
I wanted to enjoy a novel about the Carnegie libraries. The problem is that the book becomes a political hatchet job for the author's polital agenda. I liked the three strong main characters but the book then does not reflect the rural historical facts. The women overcome major problems, but every few pages polical statements ruin the story.