3 June 2009

Book Review: The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

Everyday Lou Suffern battled with the clock. He always had two places to be at the same time. He always had two things to do at once. When asleep he dreamed. In between dreams, he ran through the events of the day while making plans for the next. When at home with his wife and family, his mind was always someplace else.

On his way into work one early winter morning, Lou meets Gabe, a homeless man sitting outside the office building. Intrigued by him and on discovering that he could also be very useful to have around, Lou gets Gabe a job in the post room.

But soon Lou begins to regret helping Gabe. His very presence unsettles Lou and how does Gabe appear to be in two places at the same time?

As Christmas draws closer, Lou starts to understand the value of time. He sees what is truly important in life yet at the same time he learns the harshest lesson of all.

This story definitely is a modern day fairytale style book, with a good storyline and a lot of magic thrown into the mix to create something unique and very  different to most of the other chick-lit out there. Cecelia Ahern seems to like using the impossible in her stories, as in PS I Love You where a dead man communicated with his wife from beyond the grave, and this novel also explores a magical element too. Gabe can seemingly move quicker than is humanly possible, and the reason for this is intriguing and something it took a while to get my head around as I was reading. But credit to Ahern here, because I can't normally stand unrealistic books, yet this one drew me in immediately and I just couldn't put it down, so much so I actually read it in just over a day - I was desperate to find out how it was all going to come together at the end.

The start of the book was quite unusual for me, in that it was almost a speech from the author to her reader, welcoming them into the book and the story in a gentle and slow way. The Christmas theme immediately comes into play with talk of christmasses gone by, presents and dinners, and then she managed to relate this to the story as well, which I thought was great! Another enjoyable part for me was the way the story itself was actually told. It begins on a whole different tangent, with a youth in a police station and meeting Raphie, who comes to be our narrator for the rest of the novel. In order to teach the offending boy a lesson, Raphie wants to tell him a moral story, and this is where our story with Lou begins. We do go back to Raphie interminently throughout the book, and I really enjoyed this reading experience. The story takes many twists and turns along the way, keeping me interested all through the book, and I so much loved the writing style of Ahern - being told in the third person worked so well for this book and allowed me just to become absorbed in the unfolding story.

Ahern has managed to create a real broad range of characters within this story, someone to appeal to any reader and they all work so well within the story itself. Lou was the most complex character, clearly trying to be everything to everyone, and not quite achieving. I found it hard to like him because of how he put his work ahead of his family, but still his story was fascinating. My favourite character by far was the elusive Gabe, the man who seemed almost ethereal and a fantasy type character, and I was utterly charmed by him. He is almost a parallel of Lou, being everything he isn't, yet you can yourself see the lesson he's trying to teach Lou, although he does take a while to cotton on! The friendship between the men is slow in development but a real joy to read, and Ahern clearly very much into writing human relationships and dynamics, as this really shows throughout the book.

Considering I took such a dislike to this author debut novel, I cannot recommend this book enough to people! It was a joy to read from start to finish, and really had me sitting and thinking as I turned the final few pages. It is really a moral story, with a bit of magic thrown in to cheer it up, but come the ending everything comes together in a quite shocking ending which really made me sit up and reread what I had just read! Ahern seems to have the ability to create a magical world on paper which you can visualise yourself so deeply that you are thrown so deeply into the story, you want to keep reading right until the end all in one go! The shiny snowflake cover allows this book to be a great Christmas gift as well as a book that is going to be great to bring out for Christmas again and again. I borrowed by copy from the library but will getting myself a copy as soon as its out in paperback. Highly recommended, I absolutely loved it - this is one book that will stay with me for a long, long time. I cannot praise this highly enough!

Rating: 5/5


  1. I love all her books - she has such a gently humorous and touching and her storylines are fabulous. Can't wait to add this one to my collection.

    Great review, thanks - another one for the to-be-read pile!

  2. It's good when you give an author another go after disliking one and love it. I really want to read The Gift, I love Cecelia's books.

  3. I just finished If You Could See Me Now – its a really good book. A bit weird but magical. Her books combine fantasy fiction with a bucket load of emotion. Its the Irish charm me thinks!