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The Tenth Gift

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,524 Ratings  ·  574 Reviews
Jane Johnson's The Tenth Gift is an wonderfully escapist page-turner set in seventeenth century Cornwall and Morocco,based on spine-tinglingly shocking historical fact, with a romantic hidden love story at its heart.

His parting gift to her was a new beginning . . .

Julia Lovat walks away from her seven-year affair with Michael with a broken heart and a book of secrets. Her
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 26th 2009 by Penguin (first published June 30th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 25, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction, 2008
This book was very exciting! The plot bounces between 1625 and modern day as the main character unravels the mystery surrounding an old book and wrangles her love life at the same time.
One thing supremely irritated me and ruined the book for me. This is not a spoiler just a pet peeve. So the main character goes to the library to do some research...does she ask a crusty old librarian with who has a lifelong appreciation of local lore??? NO---she goes on the internet and gets all sorts of informat
Nov 08, 2008 Christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I am a real sucker for books that are about books, making The Tenth Gift my kind of story. However, within the first few pages of this book, I was predisposed to dislike it because the main character, Julia Lovat, has been involved in an affair with her best friend's husband for seven years. This caused me to start the book feeling decidedly unsympathetic toward Julia. In spite of this, I quickly became captivated by the storyline, which switches back and forth from modern day Julia to the life ...more
I feel somewhat guilty for according only 2 stars for a book like The Tenth Gift. Certainly I've read countless books like it in the past, and rated them higher.

Generally, I adore this type of fiction, where the author creates two women from different time periods and weaves an interconnecting tale of their lives and fates (often with subtle supernatural overtones). Writers like Susanna Kearsley and Kate Morton do it well, with their respective books The Winter Sea and The Forgotten Garden.

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Apr 29, 2012 kingshearte rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2008 Crystal rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Remove the main character, Julia Lovat, and her silly tawdry love affair with her best friend's husband, and perhaps The Tenth Gift could have had a more liberating story. But as it stands, the only time the book was free to soar was through the touching journal entries of one young British, Catherine Treganna, Julia's long deceased ancestor (circa 1625), that chronicle her kidnapping by Barbary pirates and the subsequent life that follows in a Islamic world (Morrocco), far from her British root ...more
Mar 10, 2008 Keris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the sub-title of Crossed Bones - 'the all-true adventures and most unlikely romance of a pirate’s slave girl - puts you off a little, don’t worry; there’s not a ripped bodice or heaving bosom anywhere. Well, apart from on the cover, but we'll gloss over that...

It’s the story of a seventeenth-century Cornish girl, Cat, who is a talented needlewoman dreaming dreams of a more exotic future than the one that seems likely – marriage to her cousin, drudgery, babies – when a pirate ship raids her vi
Ben Kane
Mar 02, 2012 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book on the strength of the fact that it was loosely based on the true story of a pirate raid on Cornwall in the 1620s. Given that Barbary pirates also attacked Baltimore in Ireland around this time (I'm Irish) and that I've been to the Westman Islands off Iceland which were also raided back then, I zoned in on this book like a hawk. I'm delighted to say that I wasn't disappointed. This is an absolutely terrific read.

Other reviewers have done a great job in detailing the plot, so I
Jul 07, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It featured one of my favorite literary ploys: moving backward and forward in time to tell the story. (Reminded me greatly of The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks in that sense) In the beginning I didn't have a lot of sympathy for the main character due to her moral flaws, but the author really draws you in and makes you care for her despite those flaws. Johnson makes you think about your own flaws and how sympathetically you want to be viewed despite them.

I have never
Jul 23, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In ‘The Tenth Gift’ Jane Johnson spins a story around an extraordinary piece of history:

In 1625 corsairs from North Africa sailed into Mount’s Bay, they entered a church and they took sixty men, women and children, to be sold as slaves.

That church might have been St Mary’s in Penzance, standing at the centre of Mounts Bay, just behind the harbour, clearly visible from the sea. My church, my mother’s church, my grandmother’s church ….

That drew me to the book, but it made me wary too. Because I kn
Não gosto de livros que despacham todas as pontas soltas no final com demasiada rapidez, após muitos capítulos a empatar. “O Décimo Dom” é um desses casos. Como romance histórico prometia – a história de piratas árabes a assaltar a costa inglesa no século XVII para angariar “escravos infiéis” que depois vendiam em Marrocos. Mas não convenceu…

Quando o amante casado de Julia Lovat decide “dar-lhe com os pés”, oferece-lhe um livro antigo sobre a arte de bordar. Mas, nas suas páginas, encontra mais
Jul 24, 2009 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The Tenth Gift is a wonderful and absorbing story about two complex women: Catherine Anne Tregenna (Cat) in 17th Century Cornwall, and Julia Lovat in 21st Century London. Like Cat, Julia has a talent for embroidery and at the dissolution of her long adulterous relationship with her friend’s husband Michael, she is given a book of embroidery patterns. Michael had meant to give her another similar book but mistakenly gives her the more valuable and unique palimpsest, as written overtop of the embr ...more
Maria João Fernandes
Sep 15, 2014 Maria João Fernandes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
"Uma rapariga com chamas na cabeça e bondade no coração: é um sinal certo de um destino obscuro."

Uma história de duas mulher separadas pelo tempo, que apesar dos séculos de diferença abraçam os mesmos desejos e lutam contra as mesmas dificuldades. Jane Johnson constrói um conto de mistério, que nos leva numa viagem repleta de História e aventura.

Tudo começa num restaurante de Londres, com um encontro como tantos outros, entre uma mulher e um homem. Um livro é oferecido. Um livro desperta um cora
Dec 03, 2010 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely done, though maybe more like a 3.7. I credit her with a decent historical fiction, even though I've had to rate it as a fantasy, too, because of its supernatural elements.

She may have tried too hard. Too much explaining. Parts read like a flora and fauna catalog. Other parts like history lectures. A stranger asks the protagonist what's she's reading and she answers with thirteen lines of background. How contrived. Do all modern thirty-somethings act/think like teens? She hammers many deta
Dec 28, 2008 Rima rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The premise (a woman finds a historical account of an ancestor who was taken by slaves and decides to look into it) is quite good, but the book never really took off for me. There were three main problems: (1) none of the characters were particularly likable. They were either one-dimensional, or they had few (if any) redeeming qualities, or were just too unbelievable in their decisions or actions; (2) the writing was quite stilted and boring - it was often too much to the point and lacked flow; ...more
Sep 24, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing I liked most about this book is that it's historical fiction, and the story is based on an actual event in 1625. I had no idea that people from Cornwall and Devon were abducted by pirates, and sold as slaves in North Africa. From Wikipedia: "According to Robert Davis, from the 16th to 19th century, pirates captured 1 million to 1.25 million Europeans as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages in Italy, Spain and Portugal, and from farther places like France or E ...more
Jul 23, 2008 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I picked this one up because the cover was intruiging, then I read that it involved an antique needlework/embroidery book and I had to give it a shot. What a pleasant surprise. The story involves a modern woman who receives the book as a gift, and finds that inside is a hand-written diarly of a woman kidnapped by Morrocan pirates in 1625.

This is a first novel by this author. It is very well-written and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next
Jul 10, 2008 Shellie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I almost quit reading the book after getting 1/3 of the way through it because I wasn't that interested in picking the book back up after putting it down. I thought the characters were all pretty unlikable, the storyline seemed forced, and the conclusion predictable.
Mar 18, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
A GREAT historical fiction/present day journey, I got a pre-release copy and stayed up late into the night immersed in the story.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I will begin by stating that this is not my usual type of book; it was lent to me by a friend and then a member of my book club mentioned it, so I decided to read it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so bothered by the unbelievable events and characters.

There are two stories. In the present, Julia Lovat is given an early 17th century book of needlework by her lover as a gift to end their seven-year affair. She soon discovers that a lady’s maid used the book as a diary. This young
I seem to be on a pirates kick, because without prior intent,the last three books I've read all have something to do with pirates vs. corsairs.... The Tenth Gift is fiction based on the historical fact of raids by Barbary pirates on the coast of England around Cornwall. I chose this book at the library because it seemed to be about a woman who receives an antique embroidery book as a gift, and only discovered the pirate aspects later -- and I'm grateful because I probably wouldn't have picked it ...more
Ashley Ludwig
Sep 11, 2008 Ashley Ludwig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Johnston's the 10th Gift is an amazing first person adventure into the life of a young woman, on the verge of falling apart. Her long-standing affair at an end, she is bound to her ex-lover only through the pages of an antique book - her parting gift. What she finds is an invaluable treasure: the story of a young woman from 1625 who is kidnapped from the Cornish coast by Barbary pirates to become a Christian slave.

Soon consumed by this story, she finds herself rootless, homeless, and follow
Sep 07, 2013 Krystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters took awhile to grow on me - mostly because they are all really repulsive and annoying at first but once they start on their respective adventures, both women heroines come into their own quite well. I love a well executed book that takes place both in contemporary and historical times. I will admit here the historical storyline is the more interesting and well-executed. You can tell where the author through most of her time to this reader's delight. It was very much like taking a ...more
Jul 19, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had heard about this book and because it was set in Cornwall,I had to read it. Now, what are the chances that the places in Cornwall were where some of my ancestors lived?
The characters in this book are rich as is the storyline. The 1600's and present day characters are intertwined beautifully, the descriptions of the countries makes you feel as if you are there, and the plot line keeps you caught up until the end.

I highly recommend this book and hope the author writes more...........she's te
As an end to an affair with a married man, Julia Lovat receives a book that will change her life. Called "The Needle Woman's Glorie," the book is filled with 17th-century embroidery patterns belonging to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna of Cornwall. Julia finds cramped writing in its margins that tell the story of how “Cat” and others were stolen from their Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken on a brutal voyage to Morocco to be auctioned off as slaves. Captivated by this drama ...more
Helen Bakrim
Apr 17, 2008 Helen Bakrim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone!
Recommended to Helen by: my neighbour
Smart, vivid, romantic, epic: I just loved this. I knew nothing about the 17th century or Barbary pirates and feel I've learned a lot from reading this book, but without it being any sort of chore, This is a really rip-roaring adventure novel on one level, but also a historical romance, and there's the touch of a ghost story too - but really subtle, with a clever ending. Half the book takes place now, the other half in 1625, but the transition between the two stories never jars, but rather echoe ...more
Mary Beth
I love historical fiction. This book is about two women-one in present day and the other in the 1600's who is kidnapped by Barbery pirates and taken to a harem in the Middle East. She is a student of embroidery who becomes extremely talented at this art. The modern day character happens upon an old book of embroidery patterns and decides to trace the book's history. She herself has a needlework shop. I found myself rushing through her story to get back to "Cat's"-the women who was kidnapped in t ...more
Feb 24, 2013 Etcetorize rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction buffs
Yay! I've finally interrupted my stint of picking not so great books to read. I enjoyed The Tenth Gift. It's almost like 3 books in one, going back and forth between the present and the very distant past. I found the main character of Julia Lovat to be only mildly annoying. Whenever a character refuses to listen or read something important just because she doesn't want to deal with it I find it frustrating, but overall I could live with her.

My real love is historical fiction so I was mostly fasc
The story line was okay. Pirates and a love story, what's not to like? My reasoning for the 3 is the language. The book was a bit to wordy for my liking. I like a nice easy read and this was not that. Why spend a whole page describing the rug your character is standing on, when the rug has no significance at all?????
Allison Armstrong
May 09, 2015 Allison Armstrong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
A book that is a mixture of modern and ancient times. I enjoyed the mix of the two and the history lessons added in.
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aka Jude Fisher, Gabriel King (with M. John Harrison)

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer.

She was responsible for publishing the works of J R R Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. Under the pseudonym o
More about Jane Johnson...

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“Somewhere a bird sang, its chant hanging plaintive and melancholy in the still air...I think it's a sort of lark or something. Our tradition has it that they sing with the voices of lost lovers. If the stars are smiling on them, you will hear its mate call back in a moment.” 16 likes
“There are days when I think there really is some huge great tapestry of a plan out there and we're all woven into it - this fabulous, complex pattern of life and death, full of recurring motifs and waves of color, and we're each one tiny thread in the weave.” 10 likes
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