Gifts of War: Book summary and reviews of Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford

Gifts of War

A Novel

by Mackenzie Ford

Gifts of War

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About this book

Book Summary

The Gifts of War brings readers into the vivid landscape of World War I while combining the drama of military intelligence with elements of romance and secrecy.

During the Christmas Truce of 1914, a German gives a British soldier a photo and they make a pact. Hal, the British soldier, promises to find his enemy’s English girlfriend, Sam, and let her know her fiancé is alive and thinking of her. Several weeks later, Hal—now injured—is discharged from the army and fulfills his promise. But things take an unexpected turn when he meets the woman in the photo and falls in love with her himself. As their romance blossoms, Sam shares with Hal her most private confidence: her newborn son is of German lineage, information that threatens her reputation and job as a schoolteacher. Fearful that he will lose Sam, Hal holds tight to the secret—and the photograph—that brought them together.

Mackenzie Ford sets the story of Hal and Sam's love affair against the broader landscape of England at war, and brilliantly captures the era and the fates of men and women caught in the sweep of history. A vivid tale of romance, adventure, and intrigue, Gifts of War is a remarkable narrative that explores what made War World I so tragic, so revolutionary, and so exciting.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction as well as those who enjoy tales of espionage." - Library Journal

"[A] a fine work of fiction - faithful to historical fact and romantic to its core ... Give it to fans of Susan Isaacs' Shining Through or Michael Ondaatje’'s The English Patient, among others." - Booklist

"Stiff-upper-lip storytelling redeemed by flashes of feeling and a welter of period detail." - Kirkus Reviews

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Reader Reviews

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Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

Gifts of War
Set against the ferment of World War I, Gifts of War is a finely woven tapestry that deals with one man’s choices, consequences and redemption. This vivid tale of romance and intrigue is a salient narrative that explores the uncertainties of the human heart by creating a story that resonates with the reader long after having finished the last page. I thoroughly enjoyed Mackenzie Ford’s book filled with superb period details of wartime England. It captured the era and the fates of men and women caught in this period of history. With its uncertainty, this touching love story has a shocker of a surprise ending that kept me wanting to know how Montgomery would resolve the war within him. Just between you and me it would make a terrific movie!

Ocia B. (Nevada, TX)

Touched
This book touched me on many levels. As a recent widow I was touched by the characters and how they draw you into their lives and their story. As an historian I found it vivid and accurate. I would gladly recommend it.

Talya M. (Medical Lake, WA)

A beautiful story set in the turbulent times of WWI
During the Christmas Truce in WWII, a moment when enemies stopped fighting to celebrate life and Christmas, two men shared a moment that would change their lives forever. A British soldier made a promise to find the German soldier's girlfriend and tell her that he was thinking of her. After getting hurt on the battlefield the British soldier, Hal, went to keep his promise. He didn't expect to fall in love with the girl himself. The novel is not just a love story, but is a mix of espionage, adventure, families, and the "moral cost of war." This has been one of my best reads this year.

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.

Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)

Highly Recommend!
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.

Karla S. (Dana Point, CA)

Strong love as a Gift of War
Start with a promise betrayed, deception, then guilt. Set during England at war there is a suspension of conventional virtues. Each new turn of this story comes close to upsetting this keenly balanced scale of lies and love. It will keep you reading to see what else could possibly happen.

...27 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Mackenzie Ford is the nom de plume of a well-known historian whose books are published in seventeen languages. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the London Times, the Observer, the Spectator and the Sunday Times. He was for ten years a research associate at the Macdonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge, during which time he wrote a book that was voted by Time magazine as one of the ten best books of 2006.

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