The Morning Gift10-12 years
A richly imagined story of unexpected love, independence, and belonging – The Morning Gift is a classic WWII romance from Eva Ibbotson, with an introduction from Sarra Manning.
Eighteen-year-old Ruth lives in the sparkling city of Vienna with her family, where she delights in its music, energy and natural beauty. She is wildly in love with the brilliant young pianist Heini Radik and can't wait until they are married.
But Ruth's world is turned upside down when the Nazis invade Austria and her family are forced to flee to England, and through a devastating misunderstanding she is left behind. Her only hope to escape Vienna comes from Quin, a young English professor, who unexpectedly offers her a marriage of convenience to bring her back to London.
Ruth throws herself into her new life – but a secret marriage is more difficult than she expected, especially as she and Quin find themselves drawn together.
'I have binged on Eva Ibbotson . . . her elegantly written, witty and well-observed fables' Nigella Lawson, The Times
Rediscover Eva Ibbotson, award-winning author of Journey to the River Sea, in her sweeping historical romances, including The Morning Gift, A Song For Summer and The Secret Countess.
This year (thanks to a recommendation by Ella Risbridger on Instagram, of all places) I have binged on Eva Ibbotson, not her children’s books, but her elegantly written, witty and well-observed if (after a few) formulaic fables of emigrées with beautiful burnished hair fallen on hard times. I read one after another, and rather feel your Christmas might be brightened by doing the same. So may I suggest A Song for Summer, followed by The Morning Gift, then The Secret Countess, A Company of Swans, Magic Flutes, Journey to the River Sea, and The Star of Kazan.
Nigella Lawson, The Sunday Times
Her adult books manage to be radiant and comforting, even though they address war, migration, racism and eugenics. In these frightening times, I want to read about open-hearted heroines pursuing happiness and love against the odds.
Samantha Ellis, The TLS
Sophisticated, brilliantly plotted and gloriously funny
Amanda Craig, Guardian