An enthralling story of secrets and discovering love where you least expect it, in The Tenth Gift 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 changes 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 secrets long buried. And in Morocco—just as Cat did before her—she will lose her heart.
Though they live almost 400 years apart, the stories of these two women converge in an extraordinary and haunting manner that begs the question, is history fated to repeat itself?
“The Tenth Gift is wildly yet convincingly romantic—a rare combo . . . both a sensitive portrayal of Muslim culture and a delectable adventure of the heart.”—USA Today
In an entertaining if uneven debut novel from a U.K. publishing executive, dual story lines feature spirited English heroines a 17th-century country girl and a modern-day craft shop owner both with a gift for embroidery. As a farewell gift from her married lover, Julia Lovat receives a book published in 1625 and filled with a variety of sewing patterns. Inside the manual, Julia discovers the words, scribbled in pencil over the pages, of Cat Ann Tregenna, a 19-year-old British servant kidnapped by Muslim raiders and taken to Morocco to be sold into slavery. En route, the pirate leader, Al-Andalusi, is wounded in a battle, and Cat and her needlepoint skills are called on to stitch up the man's wounds, an encounter that leads to a tangled interfaith rivalry. As Julia struggles to shake off the dregs of her affair, she finds inspiration in Cat's makeshift diary and travels to Morocco to track down proof that Cat really existed; in the process, she discovers a new life of her own. Johnson imbues her historical story line with a captivating energy and momentum, but the humdrum contemporary quasi-romance doesn't pull its share of the weight.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Hard at first but worth the effort
I started reading this and thought it was going to be tough to read with all the archaic spellings. I persevered and found it was interspersed with a modern story. The archaic spelling became easy to understand.
I am so glad to have been able to read this book.