Reading Romance: “The Morning Gift,” by Eva Ibbotson

BOOK The Morning Gift

Hey, I’m still reading titles off NPR Books’ list of 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances.

Sometimes I’m a bit of a slow reader. Maybe I’m not all that engaged by the material, or maybe I’m having trouble grasping it, or maybe the writing is thick and dense and it takes more time than usual to slog through it. Other times … Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a quick reader, because I can only consume the words as fast as my brain can take them in, but I am what you might call a relentless reader. That is to say, I gobble up page after page at my steady pace, unwilling to put the book down even for a moment until I read the end.

Generally, I become a relentless reader at some point during the course of a book. Often it’s near the end, when I’m in a rush to get to the climax and the resolution and see how it all winds up, but sometimes, in a really great book, in a book I’m enjoying quite a bit, my relentlessness kicks in quite a bit sooner. The Morning Gift definitely was one of those books, not because of a built-in urgency to the plot structure or anything — it’s not a thriller — but simply because the characters were so engaging, and I wanted very much for them to come together. I wanted to know — urgently, immediately — exactly how they would end up, and I found myself putting off all sorts of other things in order to get further into this book and find out.

I think it’s always quite an accomplishment for an author to create that kind of driving need in the heart of a reader over a romance novel, because by definition we all know how romance novels end: happily ever after. So to pull me along for that ride, desperately wanting to know when and how things will work out for our heroine and her hero, as well as all the supporting characters we care about, which this book has in abundance, is to build people of substance. As a writer you’ll hear a lot that character drives plot, and that’s certainly the case here. Who Ruth is drives what she does. And the same goes for Quin. And everyone else, to be honest. It makes for a very organic, very touching and believable and sincere story.

I’d recommend this book to anyone.

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