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The Tenth Gift

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,826 ratings  ·  797 reviews
In an expensive London restaurant Julia Lovat receives a gift that will change her life. It appears to be a book of exquisite 17th-century embroidery patterns but on closer examination Julia finds it also contains faint diary entries. In these, Cat Tregenna, an embroideress, tells how she and others were stolen out of a Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken on ...more
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Doubleday Canada (first published June 30th 2006)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,826 ratings  ·  797 reviews


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Hannah
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.

In ad
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Amy
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Christa
Aug 10, 2008 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
kingshearte
Apr 12, 2012 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.
Crystal
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Bonnie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ben Kane
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Keris
Mar 10, 2008 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
...more
Tracy
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this because one of my favorite authors (Anne Fortier) said this is one of her top 5 favorite books of all time. So, I had to read it!

It's not at all what I expected and I did enjoy the story. This is not a bodice-ripper, but is a well researched story based on actual events and some real people. The primary subject and setting is 1625 Cornwall and Morocco. Different for sure.

There were times the story dragged and it honestly was slow to start, but after I hit the 10% mark, I was pretty
...more
Stephanie
Jul 07, 2009 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
...more
Natasa
I wish I could have enjoyed this book to the extent that many others did. The description was the highlight and the most entertaining part of the book.
obsessedwithbooks
Jul 24, 2009 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
Jane
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Shellie
May 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Ann
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cornwall, Morocco, corsairs from the Barbary Coast! I really didn’t want the book to end. I haven’t read anything quite like this for a long time and it makes me want to go back and read Jamaica Inn or Frenchman's Creek again. ...more
Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse
This was a very well-written book with a compelling storyline. I’m a sucker for novels that mix past and present, through hints of the supernatural. I found it hard to put the book down! I’ll definitely be looking for more by this author, and passing this one on.
Doreen
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Ron
Nov 12, 2010 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
...more
Rima
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Nancy
Sep 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Etcetorize
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Debbie
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Anne Fortier
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This spell-binding, world-rocking adventure belongs in the top 5 of my most favorite books ever. Need I say more? I will forever devour Jane Johnson's books; she is one of the most magnificent storytellers I have ever encountered. ...more
Laura
Mar 18, 2008 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.
Vanessa Pillay
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Super interesting story! Mostly the historical one, wasn't gripped by the modern storyline. Liked the embroidery stuff too and the women working together. ...more
Mel
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
When I first started reading, I liked the historical script, spelling, and the history about to unfold. I wanted to color the embroidery and design on most chapters. I liked that I want to do more research because of the history of the plot.
What I didn't like; the shallow stupidity of the women, both Cat and Julia.
Julia's story gets lost. I thought I was reading an autobiography and when I researched the author I found out why.
On the first introduction of Michael, he came across as a milignan
...more
Jessie
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Tenth Gift

Featuring two strong women, one from the current century and one from centuries ago, unite through a book about needlepoint that contains more than patterns and needle-tips.

This is an introduction to Jane Johnson for me and I couldn’t be more pleased that this is the book that did that very meeting. Sometimes in books like this, when there are two main characters caught in different time periods, it can be a bit overwhelming, confusing and like a whirlwind to read. But this book d
...more
Christina Rothfusz
Oct 18, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5 Stars.

Julia's lover of 7 years breaks it off - he and he's wife (her good friend) is going to try and make a go of their marriage again. As a parting gift he gives her a antique book of embroidery patterns.

The book also doubled as a diary for a young girl abducted from her home in Cornwall and sold into slavery. Julia is soon pulled into the story and in an effort to find out what happened to Catherine goes to Morocco to follow her trial.

Set 400 years apart these 2 women are clearly connecte
...more
Dyanna
Apr 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually rating 3.5 stars

The Tenth Gift is a story in a story a rare way of writhing.
The first story is from the POV of Julia Lovat, an English woman that is in a romantic relationship with the husband of his best friend , Anna. The book begins with her lover, Michael telling her that he wants to break up with her and in exchange he gives her an old book. Angry and upset Julia realize that the book is a journey whose author is a girl from XVII century named Cat. Little by little Julia finds hers
...more
Sheila
Aug 05, 2017 rated it liked it
What's not to like about a book about a book, pirates, cross cultural clashes, misplaced loves, and a two time line story? As well as learning about the little known history of pirates raiding Cornwall to collect slaves?. Well, first off the heroine is a bit unlikeable until she realizes what a utter swine her boyfriend is, and also that she has been a bit swinish herself. There is a lot of coincidence here, but that's okay, it's fiction.

The ending introduces a supernatural element which had bee
...more
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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
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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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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.” 22 likes
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