Complicated family ties

‘The Forgotten Gift’ – Kathleen McGurl


The Forgotten Gift

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?

Now. On the surface, Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…

This was a nice, pleasant story but sadly, nothing more. I was anticipating something to “kick start” and fire up the narrative, but this was absent throughout the story. Therefore, if you are after a gentle, unobtrusive read, this will suit you perfectly. For me, it was just a little too bland that needed spicing up considerably.

The theme of this dual-narrative is finding your family connections. Switching between the nineteenth century and present day, both George and Cassie’s circumstances change when they realise the life they knew is not the truth. Cassie’s story progresses far quicker than George’s; consequently, I felt more invested in her narrative and believe George to lack some gumption. Admiring Cassie’s choices and the difficult decisions she has had to make, I thought the writer’s portrayal of motherhood and family ties in today’s society was really rather touching. On the other hand, I though George was quite a sap and needed to show more backbone. Despite being imprisoned, I still thought he was a quite a weak character that I could not care for.

I was not too impressed with the cover of this book. Too many books feature characters facing the wrong way! Whilst I can understand what the cover is referencing, I don’t think this reflects the main plot enough. This is disappointing and I think adds to why I believe this is just a mediocre read.

Despite this, I love the significance of the title. At first, I thought the title was reference to a beautiful mirror that George purchases before his life changes. However, the ‘forgotten gift’ is also a clear nod to the theme of family and relationships. Embracing one’s family, even if it is complicated, is just as important as knowing where your heritage. I really appreciate the symbolism of it and wished that the novel’s cover had picked up on this too.

Whilst this may seem like a negative review, I did enjoy this read. Although no surprises and mysteries, I like the family values that McGurl emphasises. Both characters grow through their own stories and I appreciated seeing this change. It was also refreshing to have a story with the central characters being both male and female; I liked the different perspectives but also similarities that emerged between the two.

My first experience of McGurl’s writing and I am not disappointed, but surprised. It is a gentle, historical read that focuses more on characterisation than action. Definitely providing some escapism, this slow, thoughtful narrative explores the importance of knowing your family.

Author bio:

Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://kathleenmcgurl.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenMcGurl/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl

Purchase Links:

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forgotten-Gift-Gripping-unputdownable-historical-ebook/dp/B08GHDTHWZ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Gift-Gripping-unputdownable-historical-ebook/dp/B08GHDTHWZ/

With thanks to HQ stories, NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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