PRH US stands by Jojo Moyes novel following claim of 'alarming similarities' to another book

PRH US stands by Jojo Moyes novel following claim of 'alarming similarities' to another book

Jojo Moyes’ US publisher has defended the author of The Giver of Stars, following accusations from American author Kim Michele Richardson that the book contains "alarming similarities" to her novel, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Historical fiction author Kim Michele Richardson accused Moyes of publishing a novel with "alarming similarities" to her book, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (Sourcebooks, US), in an interview with Buzzfeed. Both novels are set in 1930s Kentucky and are inspired by packhorse librarians who delivered library books to promote literacy in rural areas.

PRH US imprint Pamela Dorman, which published The Giver of Stars today (8th October), said Moyes' novel is a "wholly original work". Moyes’ UK publisher PRH imprint Michael Joseph declined to comment on Richardson’s claims. Richardson's US and UK publisher Sourcebooks says it is aware of Richardson's claims and will not be taking any action.

A spokesperson for Pamela Dorman said: "The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is a wholly original work. It is a deeply researched piece of historical fiction based on the true story of the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky. We have absolute confidence in the integrity of Jojo Moyes and her work.”

In July, Me Before You author Moyes told The Bookseller : “Part of the reason why I wrote [The Giver Of Stars] so quickly was because I worried that someone else would write it before me.” The piece also details three trips Moyes made to Kentucky to research her novel.

Richardson, who has sold 85 books through TCM in the UK, said a book blogger initially flagged similarities on Twitter which led her to flag her concerns to her publisher Sourcebooks, who released the book in the US on 7th May 2019. She told Buzzfeed: “History is not proprietorial. The disturbing similarities found in Moyes' book are too many and too specific and quite puzzling. None of the similarities found in Moyes' novel can be chalked up to the realities of history, nor can be found in any historical records, archives or photographs of the packhorse librarian project initiative that I meticulously studied. These fictional devices/plot points were ones I invented.”

A spokeswoman for Sourcebooks said: “We were made aware of the similarities and upon review by our legal team, it was determined that Sourcebooks would not be taking any further course of action.”

The Giver of Stars was published in the UK on 3rd October by Michael Joseph and has sold 6,607 copies to chart fourth in the Original Fiction chart. Universal optioned the film rights with "Mamma Mia" director Ol Parker on board to direct and adapt, in June. Moyes has sold 3.8 million books for £20.4m in the UK, according to Nielsen. Her bestseller is the 2012 paperback edition of Me Before You, at 974,419 copies sold.

The Bookseller has contacted Moyes' agent Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown for comment.