REVIEWED BY LINDA HILL
The Gifts is a stunning book. It’s both beautifully written and illustrated, but with a stark, uncompromising uncovering of inhumanity, zealous greed and ambition, so that it lingers in the reader’s mind long after it’s finished.
Liz Hyder’s prose is richly textured with an intensity and a feminism that is both captivating and thrilling to read.
I found myself holding my breath at times as the threads of the story drew together so superbly.
In amongst the evocative descriptions, the compelling drama and the frequently poetic language, there is wit and human understanding so that The Gifts is a real privilege to read.
It’s one of those books that makes you resent the world for interrupting your reading time!
It’s a book to take your time over and to savour.
Alongside the authentic 19th century setting, The Gifts is a story of literal and metaphorical wings. These illustrate the power of the metaphysical and philosophical, the scientific and the religious, balanced by a magical realism that is spellbinding.
Liz Hyder’s writing really is magnificent. There may be aspects of The Gifts that are almost surreal, but they are presented with such convincing storytelling that I believed every word. I was drawn inexorably into the narrative and completely bewitched by it.
The stories of the four women swirl through the pages like an exquisite dance that almost hypnotises the reader.
I didn’t so much read this book as live it with the characters.
I’d defy anyone reading The Gifts not to feel a wide range of emotions. I encountered sorrow, elation, determination and a considerable desire to commit violence!
Liz Hyder made me want to crawl into the pages, right wrongs and cause Edward, in particular, considerable harm.
It’s impossible not to be affected and deeply moved by reading about Annie, Etta, Natalya and Mary. This is especially so when they are surviving in a world dominated by men.
They are intriguing, passionate, relatable characters despite the unusual aspects of their lives. But to say too much more would spoil the story!
The Gifts is a fabulous book. It would indeed make the perfect gift for any lover of literary fiction who enjoys vivid settings, strong women, perfect plotting and a touch of magical realism
However I’d recommend guarding your own copy fiercely. It’s far, far too good to give away. I adored it.