Tuesday 22 February 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Gifts - Liz Hyder

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

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 . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

What did I think?

I think The Gifts is a novel that we will be hearing about a lot this year, and rightly so.  The writing is beautiful, the plot is completely immersive and the finished copies (complete with illustrations) will be stunning.

Through the character of surgeon Edward Meake, Liz Hyder has really captured the Victorian obsession with science and the workings of the human body.  So it's no wonder that Edward's interest is piqued when he hears rumours about the body of an angel being found in the Thames.  Intent on capturing and studying a live angel, Edward begins his quest to acquire the impossible: a live angel.

It's both fascinating and horrifying to see the way that women were treated in the 19th century.  Not just the angels, who were treated as things rather than women, but Edward's wife Annie and budding writer Mary.  Annie is very much kept in the dark about her husband's work and Mary has to adopt a male pseudonym for her writing to be taken seriously.  I absolutely loved the character of Mary; she's bold, courageous and strong, especially when she's following a story.

Although the story is completely immersive, I had difficulty getting into the rhythm of the book as most of the chapters are very short and they swap between the viewpoints of several characters.  I think the finished copy with illustrations will be better as it allows the reader to pause and absorb what they have just read.  I loved the newspaper articles that are scattered throughout the novel - it really brings the book to life.

Haunting, powerful and mesmerising, The Gifts is an astonishing novel that combines historical and feminist fiction with a touch of the ethereal.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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