Title: The Morning Gift
Author: Eva Ibbotson
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, History, Romance
5th sentence, 74th page: Once he had a lusty son or two, he’d forget all this nonsense about the Trust.
Ruth lives happily in the magnificent city of Vienna. Then the Nazis invade and her world is turned upside down.
Her parents flee to London, but Ruth is accidentally left behind. A family friend offers her an escape route: a marriage of convenience to be dissolved as soon as they reach England. But Ruth’s feelings for Quin soon take her by surprise, and her efforts to set him free do not quite go as she plans…
This is such a beautiful love story, set against an amazing backdrop of one of the most horrible moments in recent history – the beginning of WWII and the rein of Hitler. The juxtaposition between the romance and the horror works really nicely, and although it does give a face to what some Jewish people experienced in this time, it is mostly about the glory of falling in love. Not just that first, cute, puppy love, but that moment you realise you need to be with someone for every moment of the rest of your life – that you’ve found not only a friend and a lover, but a partner to your life.
I honestly think that this is my favourite Eva Ibbotson novel – it’s a little more mature than her other stories. After all, it deals with pregnancy and death and the horrors of WWII. But, it’s also my favourite story because I find Ruth the easiest to relate to – she’s a science student with a love of life. Yet, she’s still trying to find out who she is and what she’s going to become (a point that I’m currently at in my life). She’s also completely overwhelmed by her first experiences of the adult world (again, I’m still going through this). Yet, although she is a scientist, she is also a music lover.
The two aspects of Ruth that are constantly warring throughout this novel are also echoed in the two love interests. Heini is music personified (mostly because he is irreparably talented). On the other hand Quinton is science, he is rough, slightly uncultured and insanely intelligent. Personally, I like the intelligent guy – Heini is a little too self-centred in his pursuit of music and not exactly partner material. Although I love the outer contrast of the inner conflict that Ruth undergoes throughout this story. It’s also a mark of her ability to grow from a young, sheltered girl into a strong, educated woman… maybe one day I’ll undergo that transformation.
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