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The Gifts

A Novel

by Liz Hyder

The Gifts by Liz Hyder X
The Gifts by Liz Hyder
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  • Published Apr 2023
    448 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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  • Ann B. (Kernville, CA)
    A feminist story wherein hard-pressed Victorian women must find their wings
    This novel melds historical fiction with magical realism to tell the stories of four women straining against the limitations imposed on them in Victorian England. The patriarchy very much pins them down, like specimens. In fact, when two of the women, Etta and Natalya, inexplicably grow wings, a young surgeon with a god complex holds them captive in his seeping London basement in order to mount an exhibit of "his angels." They are no more than scientific specimens in Edward's eyes, and he treats them as such. The other two women are Edward's wife, Annie, from whom he has kept his captives secret, and a talented writer and budding journalist named Mary. Short, alternating chapters are told from the perspectives of each of the four, plus the increasingly ambition-crazed Edward. Chapters are introduced by a charming illustration that signals the chapter's POV character -- Etta the botanist is represented by an oak leaf, Mary the journalist by an inkpot and quill, Natalya the Orkney Islands dweller by a seashell, Annie the artist and beleaguered wife by a painter's palette, and Edward by a key. This book is for those who like a well-paced plot, descriptive prose, and strong female characters who overcome grief and hopeless situations to finally find their wings.
  • Susan L. (Alexandria, VA)
    Angelic Tale of Strength
    The Gifts reveals the heart of five women caught by circumstances beyond their control. Three are transformed. One is broken. Another finds the truth. Each of the women must face her own path and purpose. Ultimately this is a book about strength and courage. The courage to face life as it happens and to forge your own path using the gifts you have been given. These women use their wings, art, and curiosity as their guides. I loved it. It was both fanciful and realistic. Sad but hopeful. Caged and empowered. Everything you want in a story.
  • Charla Wilson
    Angels and a Madman
    This is one of those books that are hard to put down. It’s also one of those books that keeps you thinking about it when you are not reading it. It has beautiful angels, a crazy, money hungry, fame seeking doctor, a wonderful mid-1800s setting, and even a little romance. All of these things along with a lot of action add up to a great read.
  • Renee T. (Seward, PA)
    The Gifts
    In Victorian England, women are mysteriously growing wings; large, angel-like wings. This "miracle" causes an uproar in London, and the lives of an ambitious surgeon, his artist wife, a budding journalist, and two affected women are changed forever.

    I was drawn into this book from the very first page. The writing is perfect - Liz Hyder pulls you in until you feel as though you are experiencing everything first hand. Then her writing has the story racing along so you feel you don't have time to put it down or you will miss something. It's also a book that stays with you long after you've finished it because there is so much to think about: women's roles in Victorian England, Victorian medicine and science, religion, the nature of talents and gifts are just a few. I've been recommending it to many reading friends. An excellent choice for book clubs.
  • Monica W. (Pottstown, PA)
    The book was very intriguing from the start. The women in the book, in my mind, all had "gifts". Each and every one of them had a challenge of their own. Each character/women were very strong, especially living in that time period. The descriptive location throughout transformed the reader right there. The book would be great for book clubs for further discussion. It was a very good book and I wonder if this is going to be a series.
  • Bonne O. (Hartwell, GA)
    Women Rise Above
    The Gifts was a pleasure to read. The format was ideal for gradually getting to know the aspirations and struggles of each character during the 1840 time period. Many of the books themes such as misuse of religion, deadly ambition, greed and misogyny are alive and well in today's society. Despite being hampered by social mores of the time, it was heart warming to see how cleverly the collective women used their instinctive intelligent and talents to reach a conclusion.
  • Gerrie B. (Carmel, IN)
    Magical, riveting, empowering.
    I enjoyed The Gifts, it pulled me quickly into the Victorian era and spun a story from which I could not disentangle myself. The Gifts speaks to the power of women to chart their own destiny in the face of societal norms and oppression and despite the established entitlement of men. It celebrates the intelligence and resiliency of women and the added strength we can find when women help each other. Those who enjoy historical fiction with an added touch of magic will be enthralled. I would recommend The Gift for book clubs, as there are many nuances to discuss. Those who enjoy reading books where women are not ancillary to the plot but fully developed, interesting, characters would also enjoy this book.

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