Now I've read The Giver of Stars, published a few months after Bookwoman. It's a novel about a plucky young woman and her trials as one of the 'pack librarians' of the Depression era Kentucky mountains.
Fair enough-- the pack librarians were real and their history is out there for any enterprising author to use as a springboard into fiction.
Of course there will be some similarities. And the protagonists, aside from pluckiness, could hardly be more different. Cussy Mary of The Bookwoman is a native Kentuckian, with a genetic condition that turn her skin blue. Alice, of The Giver, is a young Englishwoman, transplanted to Kentucky by marriage.
But still. As I read The Giver, I kept having a feeling of deja vu. So many similarities of plot.
I'm not the only one. An excellent article HERE documents the similarities and explains the difficulty of proving plagiarism.
Both novels have done well. But it's Moyes, who already had an huge following, who's landed a film contract.
What a nightmare--to feel that your work has been plagiarized or, equally, to be accused of plagiarism if you're innocent.
Both books were good reads. I felt that Bookwoman was far more authentic in its language (Giver seemed to slip into present day slang sometimes) and, on the whole, better written. Giver kept me turning the pages, eager to find the resolution, but toward the end, I confess I was skimming--not especially deeply engaged.
Would I have felt differently if I'd read Giver first? I don't think so.