The Tenth Gift

Written by Jane Johnson
Review by Rebecca Roberts


In present-day London, Julia Lovat receives a goodbye gift from her lover: a book of 17th century embroidery patterns which belonged to a woman named Catherine Ann Tregenna. Interested in the book because of her love of embroidery, Julia begins to read. She soon discovers this is no ordinary book, but a secret diary. She learns that Cat and others were stolen from their Cornish church in 1625 by Muslim pirates and taken to Morocco to be auctioned off as slaves. Riveted, Julia decides to escape her heartache by journeying to North Africa, determined to prove the authenticity of the book, and to find out what happened to Cat.

Switching between the stories of Julia and Cat, Johnson captures an exotic, turbulent world in which past and present are smoothly woven into a mesmerizing story. With an unearthing of a romance between clashing cultures, and with a budding romance of her own, Julia discovers herself, what happened to Cat, and how to live happily ever after. Johnson, inspired by her own experiences and ancestral history, has created a tale of mystery, intrigue, and cultural history. Despite a somewhat lukewarm ending, The Tenth Gift is well worth a read.