Arden A. (Homosassa, FL)
Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive..
Sir Walter Scott's quote is an apt beginning to describe this novel of romance and intrigue that takes place during the Great War. The story grabs from the opening scene, which depicts the Christmas truce that took place between the British and German troops in 1914, and continues to hold interest through the last page.
It is an excellent novel, and one I enjoyed immensely. It has romance, intrigue, deception, family dysfunctions, and most of all, a very tangled web. The author is Mackenzie Ford, which is a nom de plume of a well-known historian, and this is his first novel. Not being a history buff, I cannot attest to the integrity of the times, but I can say that as a reader, I was never transported to that time as I was, say, with Caleb Carr's The Alienist. The writing seemed somewhat anachronistic to me, with dialogue that seemed to be more 21st century, than early 1900s, but that did not at all detract from my enjoyment of the story. The novel was excellent, and I am looking forward to the author's next book.
Kathy G. (Alamo, CA)
Gifts of War
I have always been intrigued with the world wars and in particular the first one. On a personal note, my grandfather was German and came to America just after the first war. I remember talks around the dinner table of his brothers that died during that time.
I was anticipating a fast moving novel after the captivating first few chapters. Instead, I was continually wanting the story to move along and stick to the main subject at hand. There were many plots within the novel, all of which could become a book in itself.
I so admire Mackenzie Fords historical knowledge and loved that aspect of the novel. Gifts of War was tied together well at the end. In my opinion, it just took too many different paths and story lines to get there.
Marion W. (Issaquah, WA)
"Backstage" during World War 1
Readers who like books set in the time of The War to End All Wars will find this novel replete with social, as well as political, history. To me, the characters sometimes seem too modern in their conversation, broad knowledge, and general candor, than what one might expect from people living in that time period with the restrictions society then imposed upon individuals.
But their story is always interesting to both men and women, and compelling, and the characters are well delineated.
Rebbie M. (Parrish, FL)
Lots of historical detail, little emotion
I love the era of World War One, and was looking forward to being whisked away by a riveting story complete with the historical details of that fascinating period. The historical detail was there, and I particularly enjoyed the description of the famous Christmas truce, but beyond that, I felt that the story lacked emotion. I couldn't sympathize with the protagonist because the prose was dry, almost in the style of a report. There were no haunting descriptions or accounts of the wrenching emotions that a soldier in the trenches would experience. The author is a historian turned novelist, and even though the history was accurate, I had to make myself finish the book.
Brianne S. (Slinger, WI)
Gifts of War - Morals of War
I thought it was a good book but it was difficult to fathom the stretch of morals which were described. I think it would be a good book for a book club as it will generate discussion. In order to understand the book one must have lived through some challenges and have the insight to see the various perspectives.
Barb W. (Mechanicsburg, PA)
A good read
I enjoy reading first-time authors, and this book was no exception. The plot, the characters and the time period made me want to keep reading to find out how everything worked out. I will definitely look for more books by this author!
Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)
This is one of the best books I have read in a while and had trouble putting it down. I thought it was very well written. If the sections about the intelligence community were indeed factual, it gives me a better appreciation of what they actually do. I loved reading Izzy's letters to Hal -- the way she nagged him yet loved him. This book has something for everyone -- from love to intrigue and from drama to a bit of comedy.
I can't wait to read other novels by this author.