My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for The Gifts by Liz Hyder, published by Bonnier Books UK – part of Manilla Press.
Come Etta, she says to herself. Come. Open your eyes. Whatever it is, the worst must surely be over. Wrung out and exhausted, she edges slowly to her feet, wobbles as she comes to stand. But she has no need to turn her head. The sun emerges from the clouds above, stretching Etta’s shadow far in front and taking her breath away with it. It is impossible. It cannot be……’
October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders. Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . .
Our Author – Liz Hyder
Liz grew up in London and was a member of the National Youth Theatre for four years before studying Drama at Bristol University. She worked at the BBC’s publicity department for six years on everything from EastEnders, Holby City and Casualty to Radio 4 before going freelance. Since then, she’s been the Film Programme Co-Ordinator at Hay Festival and worked on numerous PR campaigns for books, theatre, festivals and events. She runs creative writing workshops for all ages and is on the board of Wales Arts Review. She lives in the medieval market town of Ludlow in South Shropshire, surrounded by books and plants. She is an aspiring gardener, an amateur naturalist and a keen walker of hills. Follow Liz on Twitter / IG: @londonbessie
Liz Hyder’s debut adult novel, The Gifts, was bought by Bonnier Books UK’s new literary imprint Manilla Press in a six-figure, pre-emptive, two-book deal. Publishing Director Sophie Orme acquired world rights to the novels from Anwen Hooson at Bird Literary Agency
My Review – The Gifts
What a delight it has been reading The Gifts. A true sense of place and scenery. With characters that only enhance the story. Richly written with historical detail and medical terms that Edward Meake and Samuel Covell best friends and colleagues, use when in their theatre’s amputating a limb in-front of students and onlookers. Before Edward returns home to his wife Annie, who’s desperation for a child of her own fills her thoughts daily.
Mary who’s life is spent looking after her drunken uncle Jos. Who’s often too drunk to create his work for the local paper that Mary takes over writing it. The tales of a local boatman bring her and her cousin Richard close to the brink of a fascinating story about ‘fallen angels’.
Etta branded a ‘difficult woman’ by her half brother, purely for wanted to think and use her mind is head strong and clever with it. Down trodden and over looked, purely because of her sex, her knowledge of nature and botany, far out weights many male counterparts. Dismissed as a ‘hobbyist’ time and time again, she’s ousted from her family home, pushed aside after her fathers death, by her half brother. Who rather she didn’t exist. And kept quietly to herself.
Natalya is looking for more than she has. She wants a new life in London and heads there to find her cousin. As often is the case when you turn up unexpected, the person in question has moved on and this leaves Natalya in a dilemma of where to stay, in a city she doesn’t know with no one to rely upon.
All these women’s lives are entwined by Edward’s discovery of the ‘fallen Angel’ but Mary, Annie, Natalya and Etta are linked already, by the fact they are oppressed and challenged. They feel contained and will not be confined. I like these strong women, they know there’s more to the world to be seen, that they should be heard and will fight for their beliefs.
Cleverly written and carefully plotted, this is pure indulgence, dripping with historical dialogue and scenery.
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