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The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson
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The Tenth Gift (2008)

by Jane Johnson

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The Tenth Gift – Jane Johnson
3 stars
A 21st century woman is given a 17th century book of embroidery patterns. She discovers that the book also contains the journal of a Cornish woman who was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in 1625. The book alternates between the modern and historical story lines. The stories are tied together by a predictable, malevolent, ghostly influence.
This was a quick, mildly entertaining read. Given the potential of the subject matter, it should have been much more than that.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
A romance/adventure of a girl from Cornwall who is abducted straight from her church by Barbary pirates, and sold into slavery.
This book was published as 'The Tenth Gift' but I read an ARC which still had the 'Crossed Bones' title on it, and I'm putting my review here because, seriously, I never would have picked it up with the 'Tenth Gift' title on it. Is there even a 'tenth gift' in the story? I don't think so! I want to hear about Pirates!
Anyway, the book is vivid and well-researched. Apparently, the story was inspired by a family legend that a member of the author's family was kidnapped by pirates, and during her research trip to Morocco, the author fell in love with and married a local man. Her love of Morocco comes through loud and clear - too loud, in fact.
The string of unbelievable events and portrayals includes too many things that are solely the province of romance novels; not reality (and this is, at heart, a romance novel.) Too many aspects of the story are quickly whitewashed over. Even if the main character was treated better than the other slaves due to her skill at embroidery - really, you think she's going to forgive and fall in love with the man who caused her family & friends to die in torturous conditions? Sure, Stockholm Syndrome exists, but the way it's treated here is all lovey-dovey and happy, and I can't help going, "uh, what? really?" I suppose there is a faint chance that life as a female slave in Morocco might have been better than life as a free woman in 17th-century England... but if you're gonna try to convince me of that, you're going to have to convince a bit harder.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention anything about the modern-day, 'framing' story, which has to do with a modern woman finding the 17th-century woman's diary, which was given to her accidentally as a parting gift by her friend's husband, with whom she has been having an affair... He turns out to be a frighteningly huge jerk, but all-in-all, the present-day portion of the book is sort of boring and forgettable. I do love connecting antique items (like the book, and a panel of embroidery) to the stories of the past, but really, the 17th-century story is the one you're reading this for.

Oh!! I also forgot about the haunty-ghosty part at the end. That was just dumb, and should have been removed.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I really enjoyed my reading of The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson. The story swings back and forth between two women, Julia in modern times and Catherine from the year 1625. Both stories were interesting and although neither would have fully sustained a book on their own, this blend worked.

Julia came into possession of an antique book that turned out to be Catherine’s journal describing how she was taken captive by Barbary pirates in Cornwall and spirited away to be sold as a slave in Morocco. The connection between the two women was credible and I liked the fact that it was never fully confirmed that they were related. Also, having both women involved with embroidery was both different and interesting. Julia eventually decides to follow in Catherine’s footsteps and travels to Morocco to continue to trace Catherine. Both she and Catherine seem to be destined to find their future in this exotic country.

I felt the contrast between the two women could have been more defined. For all her modern ways, Julia didn’t seem that different from Catherine, who, in turn, seemed a little too “with-it” to be a totally credible 17th Century woman. I would have liked both these characters to have been a little more developed. Overall however, The Tenth Gift was a fast-paced, highly readable story that shines a light on a little known piece of history. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 1, 2015 |
Interesting, but not compelling. I liked the flipping back and forth between the stories of the two central characters, but never formed a strong affinity for either. Learned a bit about embroidery, though. ( )
  bookczuk | Mar 26, 2015 |
Jane Johnson's Crossed Bones has come at a great time - it seems there have never been so many good historical writers on our shelves and there is always room for one more. From the intriguing first line to the end of the novel this is exciting, entertaining and extremely enjoyable.

I've seen various people describe it as a 'rip-roaring read' and a 'swashbuckling pirate tale' and I would agree with both. Jane Johnson has weaved an excellent story into a well-researched historical backround. If you doubt the extent of her reading, check out the back of the book where a list of further reading sources is provided.

The writing style is clear, catchy and accessible and the characters are excellent. This enchanting mix of past and present is a real winner.
( )
  donnambr | Nov 27, 2014 |
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In an expensive London restaurant, Julia Lovat receives a gift that will change her life. At first glance, it looks like a book of exquiste seventeenth-century embroidery patterns belonging to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna. Yet in its margins are the faintest diary enteries; they reveal that "Cat" and others were stolen from their Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken on a brutal voyage to Morocco to be auctioned off as slaves. Captivated by this dramatic discovery, Julia sets off to North Africa to determine the authenticity of the book and to uncover more of Cat's mesmerizing story. There, in the company of a charismatic Moroccan guide, amid the sultry heat, the spice markets, and exotic ruins, Julia will discover buried secrets. And in Morocco-just as Cat did before her-she will lose her heart. Set almost 400 years apart, the stories of these two women converge in an extraordinary and hauntings manner that will make readers wonder: Is history fated to repeat itself?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307405222, Hardcover)

The art of embroidery uncannily links two fascinating women of different eras and their equally passionate love stories


In an expensive London restaurant, Julia Lovat receives a gift that will change her life. At first glance it is a book of exquisite seventeenth-century embroidery patterns belonging to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna. Yet in its margins are the faintest diary entries; they reveal that “Cat” and others were stolen from their Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken on a brutal voyage to Morocco to be auctioned off as slaves. Captivated by this dramatic discovery, Julia sets off to North Africa to determine the authenticity of the book and to uncover more of Cat’s mesmerizing story. There, in the company of a charismatic Moroccan guide, amid the sultry heat, the spice markets, and exotic ruins, Julia will discover buried secrets. And in Morocco—just as Cat did before her—she will lose her heart.

Set almost 400 years apart, the stories of these two women converge in an extraordinary and haunting manner that will make readers wonder—is history fated to repeat itself?

A literary mystery, historical adventure, and dual love story, The Tenth Gift literally crosses genres with narrative ease and prose that is as captivating as the characters who people this unforgettable tale.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:08 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A volume of seventeenth-century embroidery patterns that also contains faint diary entries brings together the lives of two women of different eras--Cat Tregenna, kidnapped by Muslim pirates in 1625, and Julia Lovat, a modern-day woman out to authenticate Cat's story.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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