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The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

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parthianbow
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The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

Post by parthianbow » Wed August 10th, 2011, 11:22 pm

I bought this book on the strength of the fact that it was loosely based on the true story of a pirate raid on Cornwall in the 1620s. Given that Barbary pirates also attacked Baltimore in Ireland around this time (I'm Irish) and that I've been to the Westman Islands off Iceland which were also raided back then, I zoned in on this book like a hawk. I'm delighted to say that I wasn't disappointed. This is an absolutely terrific read.

Other reviewers have done a great job in detailing the plot, so I won't go into it in depth. It's enough to say that this time-slip novel expertly engages on both fronts. We have the modern day tale of Julia, and her doomed love affair with the duplicitous Michael, and her discovery of Catherine (Cat) Treganna's notes in the old embroidery text that Michael mistakenly gives Julia - and also the historical story of the fiery, tempestuous Cat, who dreams of escaping life in boring 1620s Penzance. Cat's dreams come true - but not in the manner she'd expected. Carried off into slavery by Barbary pirates (from modern day Morocco), her nightmare journey takes her on a voyage of self-discovery. A similar thing of course happens to Julia, who journeys (as Jane Johnson did!) to Morocco in search of more information, and finds far more than that.

This book is beautifully written, evoking not just the prudishness of 17th century Puritan England, but the terror of a pirate attack, the richness and squalor of North Africa, both yesteryear and today, and the differences between the two cultures of east and west. It's very romantic too, and I found myself thinking of Birdsong as I read it. I enjoyed every page of this novel. It's a tremendous book, and gives The Sea-Hawk by Sabatini a real run for its money. Five solid stars out of five.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Thu August 11th, 2011, 8:54 am

Great review. I think I remember an interview with the author where she said she based the story on one of her ancestors.
Currently reading: "Tidelands" by Philippa Gregory

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Thu August 11th, 2011, 9:08 am

I have this book on my TBR pile but under another title - Crossed Bones.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sat August 13th, 2011, 9:07 pm

Has the title been changed and the book repackaged?

I read and enjoyed it a couple of years ago as Crossed Bones. It reminded me in style of Barbara Erskine, but a tad more literary in rendition. I slightly prefer Erskine, but I was thoroughly entertained.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Vanessa
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Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Sat August 13th, 2011, 9:38 pm

I think the hardback was Crossed Bones, but when they brought out the paperback they retitled it The Tenth Gift - I'm not sure but I think it was to bring it in line with the US edition.

A similar thing happened with Fiona Mountain's Lady of the Butterflies, which was retitled Rebel Heiress when it came out in paperback. Rebel Heiress sounds like a bodice ripper!
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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