July 7, 2009

Gifts of War by Mackenzie Ford

“Waiting is not living,” says, Sam, girlfriend of our narrator Hal in Mackenzie Ford’s debut novel Gifts of War. Sam is referring to waiting for the return of her missing paramour, Wilhem—a German soldier during WWI at a time of obvious anti-German sentiment. Her statement affects Hal differently, for he’s been waiting for Sam to discover the truth about how he manipulated his way into Sam and her young son Will’s life. During the Christmas Truce, an actual event in history where the enlisted refused to fight and even fraternized with the enemy to honor the Christmas sprit, Hal met Wilhelm. Wilhelm asked Hal to deliver a message to Sam that he had never stopped thinking about her, but instead Hal meets Sam and falls instantly in love. Hal goes to great lengths to care for and protect Sam and Will. Sam’s statement also has an impact on the reader because we know this story can not end well for Hal, or the makeshift family he has built.

I’ll admit that the plot begins a little soapy. However the historical details transport the reader into the time period which is engaging enough until the story takes off. A combination spy novel, war story, and romance plot is mostly utilized to explore the ideas of family and love. The Christmas Truce is an interesting crux on which to build the novel allowing Ford to tell a unique and vividly researched story. The ending is surprisingly touching (I cried), and I couldn’t help but be pleased with the thorough way in which all elements of the story are tied together. A rare novel with heart that I can strongly recommend to anyone, and I for one will keep an eye out for Ford’s next work.

1 comment:

Thanks for joining our discussion of this book!

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