Ruth Berger is a bright student who lives with her family in Vienna in 1938. When her father, who is half Jewish, is dismissed from his prestigious job as a well known professor because of his Jewish blood, the Berger family knows it's time to leave Vienna. They form a plan, and move out quickly, but it went wrong, and Ruth was left behind. Hiding in Nazi-occupied Vienna is extremely difficult and risky, and she's lucky when Quin Somerville, a young colleague of her father's, offers his help. They form a marriage of convenience and escape to London. But once there, it will be harder to dissolve their marriage than Quin thought. Now Ruth is enrolled in the university he teaches at...can they possibly keep their marriage a secret? Or their growing attraction?
All of Eva Ibbotson's books are wonderfully charming, and The Morning Gift is no exception. Ibbotson has such a polished and sophisticated style, punctuated with smart snatches of humor and irony, which makes this book a delight to read. All of her characters are carefully portrayed with just the right amount of background details and traits so that they seem more realistic and three dimensional, even the lowliest one. Ibbotson's novel is also brimming with references to paleontology and other sciences, music, and literature that go hand in hand with the very academic characters and setting, but aren't over the top, nor do they require that the reader need any prior knowledge of such things to enjoy the book. The Morning Gift is a believable, well researched book that chronicles the wretchedness of the displacement of millions of people before and during World War II, and also offers a bit of hope and romance, along with one of Ibbotson's trademark nerve-racking endings, complete with miscommunication and misunderstandings, that ultimately result in a happy ending. The Morning Gift is highly recommended.
Cover Comments: I really enjor all of the covers of the reprint editions of Eva Ibbotson's books. The music in the bacground hints at the musical influences in the book (though really, academics and science is focused on more), and the pose of the model is nice. This is a very attractive cover.