on 22 June 2002
I read this book in English but was utterly surprised. When I picked it up I did not expect it to hold much, but that all goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. Eva Ibbotson's characters are so vivid that it is hard to believe they are fictional. Her writing draws you into the world she describes and makes you unwilling to leave. In fact, immediately after finishing the book, I began it again; the first time I have ever done this. The plot is not as straightforward as one might expect, just when you think you know what will happen next there is an unexpected twist. I was enchanted with the book and almost afraid to try any of Ibbotson's other works, in case they didn't hold the same magic. However I have now changed my mind, as this book is not a fluke, anyone who can write like this has a real talent.
The morning gift is a present sent from groom to bride in a morganatic (ie unconsummated) marriage of convenience. This is what Ruth, the Jewish heroine, consents to in order to share Quin's British passport and be whisked away from Nazi Vienna to rejoin her family in London. Eccentric, strong-minded and academic like all her family, Ruth is in love with a gifted pianist, Heini, who is more concerned with his art. Quin, a brilliant Professor of paleontology, falls in love with Ruth but even when she becomes his student she fails to see this, leaving him prey to the appalling Verena, a rigidly conventional girl from the same upper class Northumbrian background as his own.
Readers who enjoy conventional romance will have no difficulty in deducing that everything turns out happily in the end, but with Ibbotson as with Austen what is so captivating is not her plotting but her wit, her gift for character and her insights. Emigre life in Belsize Park during the late 1930s is a brilliant comic subject, not least because so many of the Jews who fled Hitler were not brought up in the faith and met rabbis as bewildered as gentiles. The sadness of the survivors, who know all too well what is happening in Germany and Austria even if their hosts refuse to see it, creates a dark background against which the happiness of the good feels hard-won. Ruth is Ibbotson's most touching heroine (alongside that of A Song For Summer and COmpany of Swans) and she continues to appeal to teenagers even today. This novel is now as rare as hens' teeth, but it will be reprinted in 2008 if you can bear to wait that long.
on 25 January 2011
Let's just clarify that I have never in my life been to Vienna, have only been to London once when I was eight, and I wouldn't know a famous painting if it hit me in the face. Saying this, I can not praise Eva Ibbotson enough for all of her books, not just The Morning Gift.
I was actually looking for different books a few years ago when I received this and The Secret Countess for Christmas; I'd previously lifted them up several times in my local Waterstones, but always put it down because I was never one hundred percent sure I'd like them (saying that, I did the same for Twilight numerous times, and I finished the series for the 5th time not long ago). So I was dubious, there's no doubt - but after finishing The Secret Countess, I couldn't pick The Morning Gift up quickly enough.
The book focuses on Ruth and Quin: Ruth is a extraordinary intelligence venetian with the looks of a milk maid, and Quin the heart-breaking professor determined to get her to England to her family. To do this, he concocts the idea of a marriage which he would consummate when they reached England. Things do not go as planned as Ruth begins to experience unexpected feelings for Quin, and things start to not go as they planned.
There is reference upon reference in this book, concerning architecture and marine biology, not to mention the classical poets and writers Eva is so fond of. Even though I couldn't picture half the places she talks, the emotional impact I've felt from her book mean I've turned to them whenever I have the chance; even now I'm re-reading The Morning Gift as we speak.
This book is ideal for everyone, especially those who love the moments when your toes curl up and your eyes can't take in the page fast enough; this book is perfect for you.
on 20 July 2008
I have read nearly all of Eva Ibbotsons books for teenagers, and i have to say this is one of my favorites. Though this book is one of the longest she has written, and the most sophisticated, the way she captures the characters feelings is pure genius. She has created such detailed, very clever characters, and the innocence and purity of the main character Ruth.
This book is not for a quiet read, something that you will pick up, and just read a few pages before putting it down and not reading it for a while, it is a long books, that has had a lot of research put into it, and needs alot of thinking about. However, it is well worth the read.
on 3 September 2009
I read Eva Ibbotson's "Adult" books years ago and don't know how I missed this one. Personally I would not call it YA but "adult suitable for younger and discerning readers. The author has a charming style and all of her stories have that "mittel European" feel to them which is so different to much romantic fiction.
In this particular story of a marriage of convenience entered into to provide an escape from Nazi-occupied Vienna, we are treated to romance that takes a year or more to develop. During that year we learn so much about the refugee community that grew in London and the wider UK as more and more Jews and others fled the persecutions of Hitler. There is tragedy and comedy in this book as we watch Ruth Berger grow up and spread her wings in a foreign land. She is surrounded by love and good wishes but, as a young woman coming of age, she is uncertain, unclear and unconvinced about many things in her life and it is a delight to watch her mature and find her true path. Quin Sommerville is a delight of a hero - an academic from a very rich and structured background with a bit of a sad family history. You can visualise him as part Indiana Jones, part war hero, part simple man who gradually falls in love despite himself.
The author has a delightful style with her own background always apparent just below the surface of her books. The wide cast of characters and secondary stories made the novel truly three dimensional and deeply satisfying. A lovely romantic story most appropriate to read on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Britain going to war against Hitler. I do recommend this to lovers of well-written, emotionally involving stories.
Vienna, 1938, and the Nazis have invaded, persecuting and driving out the Jewish population. Due to unforeseen circumstances Ruth Berger is left behind when her family flees to England, and now she can't leave.
Until Quin Somerville, a former student of Ruth's father and in Vienna to receive an honorary degree, finds her and promises to get her out. Even if their only choice is marriage. It doesn't mean anything, and they'll dissolve it as soon as they reach England, leaving Ruth free to marry her beloved Heini, and Quin just free.
At least that's the plan. Except such marriages aren't easily put aside - and the longer it takes to break, the more they're left to wonder whether they still want to.
Once again Ibbotson presents a beautiful love story set amidst the melancholy, forgotten world of interwar Europe. Ruth is a glorious heroine, filled with an infectious zest for life, and consuming passion for both music and zoology. And she's likeable. Quin is a level-headed hero with a clear sense of duty, desperately in need of Ruth's bright love of life.
In true Ibbotson style there's a cast of wonderful characters - from the displaced refugees, to Ruth's fellow students - and a smattering of selfish and nastily intentioned others helping to sow confusion and misery. The path to true love is never smooth, and this is one of Ibbotson's darker tales, but the light spots are even brighter for it. The first time Ruth truly sees the North Sea is just one of them.
Amongst the academics and brooding troubles of the approaching war, this is a story not only of romantic love, but passion for life and the importance of all levels of acceptance. My favourite of Eva Ibbotson's romances - it's just gorgeous.
on 16 November 2009
The Morning Gift is yet another loveable and heart-warming novel by Eve Ibbotson. This classic historical love story instantly brings a smile to your face and sets your mind wondering. Of course, like all of Ibbotson's novels for older readers, there is beautiful Jane Austen quality to her writing but with a new sparkle.
When the Nazis invade, Ruth's family flee to London but she is unexpectedly left behind. She is found by a family friend, the young handsome professor, Quin. He offers her a marriage of convenience but as they settle into London life, things become complicated with university, love and the arrival of Ruth's fiancé Heini.
A well thought out story and a few surprising moments, means that this is never a boring read. It is well paced, with wonderful characters and makes you an empathetic reader. As always, just when things start looking up, frustratingly they fall apart. It had me speeding to the end because - even though you know it will all end well - you just have to find out for yourself.
I used to only read adventure stories but after picking up my first Eva Ibbotson story, The Secret Countess, I've never looked back. I have discovered a new and better genre: love. And I do love a happy ending.
on 27 February 2009
This book stayed in my memory long after I had finished it. A poignant subject, beautifully written. It is definitely for older teenagers and adults though.
on 16 July 2008
I've read all of Eva Ibbotson's books for older readers and have loved all of them!
This tells the story of Ruth, who lives in Vienna with her family, but when the Nazis invade her family flee accidently leaving Ruth behind. A family friend, Quin, offers her an escape through a marriage of conveinence to be dissolved when they reach England. However cirrcumstances throw them together once more and they realise there feelings for each other.
Ibbotson's details in her novels really set them apart and each character is so full of life. I thoroughly recommend this!
on 28 August 2010
Another beautiful story by this outstanding author. As always, the background is carefully covered and researched, and many a time the you feel the need to put the book down to process and think about what you have just read! This book is most defiantly not a light read, being very detailed and a long one at over 500 pages (yes at last a long book I hear you cry! - or maybe that was just me . . .), however the magic of Eva Ibbotson and her thorough knowlage of music and the city of Vienna once again shines through.
Ruth is living in Vienna with her family, whilst waiting for Henri to propose, when the Nazis invade. Her family being Jewish, need to escape and Ruth is sent ahead on a student pass port to England. However due to a problam that occurs with her paper work, Ruth is unable to leave the country. Knowing her parents will not leave with out her, she lets them think that she made it to England. Quin, a friend of the family and a wealthy Englishman, finds her alone in the City hiding away. Determined to help her he offers her a marriage of convenience, that is to be dissolved as soon as they get to England, so as she can have a British passport and leave Vienna.
The only problem is . . . they where never supposed to fall in love . . .
A thrilling tale with a clever plot that intertwines love, passion and war. Not one for younger readers due to the 'marriage' theme, but one to be enjoyed by adults and teens alike.
One of Eva Ibbotson's best, highly recommended!