The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was thinking about The Morning Gift this morning, this strange, heightened, musical book full of grace and elegance and wry sentences that curl in on themselves with sudden witticisms and side-remarks, and I was reminded about how good Eva Ibbotson can be. She is remarkable. This book, this story of Ruth and Quin, a girl rescued from Vienna and from Nazism by a boy and brought to England, and their story of love and idiocy and stupidity and perfect, perfect moments, is something. It is something.
It’s not easy to get in at first, I think, and I remembered having a similar experience when I read it last time. The first few chapters are Names! Rivers! Music! Beauty! Names! Fossils! Names! Relatives doing things! More names! but then something quite delightful happens.
You become snared.
I’m thinking a lot about books at the moment and how they tie the reader to them; how these odd little mishaps of words and space are so alchemical in what they do that we become part of them for the reading, and how they become part of us. Reading is a sort of forever-loss, for we find our whole and then we let them go. We finish. We move on.
But I don’t think you do that with an Eva Ibbotson and certainly not with The Morning Gift. I keep coming back to this book; years, months, minutes after my last reading to stare at it and remember the tardis-like magic that’s trapped inside. There is a world, here, so big and so raw and so real and so intensely beautiful that it is impossible to turn away from it.
This is a love story. It is a love story between Ruth and Quin but also between the reader and language, between you and sentences that hold you and take you to dance on the avenues of Vienna and to race the tide on a Northern beach, so raw with beauty that it makes the world ache.