The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson: Holocaust refugees in N London

the really interesting question

the really interesting question (Photo credit: romana klee)

bookshelves: f2f-book-club-readsalphabet-challenge,personal-challenge100

Read from December 31, 2012 to January 27, 2013 — I own a copy


This was a f2f book club read and there was a unanimous decision – it was lightweight, fun, longer than it should be, started and ended well but the middle needed some strong editing.
The characters in the cafe were fun but rather flat – one dimensional or possibly 2 dimensional but not fully developed.
We couldn’t however agree whether the book was aimed at a teenage audience or adults.
We did all learn what the meaning of a morning gift was in relation to a morganatic marriage, which none of us had known before. this was derived from ‘morgen’ in German. Morganatic means when there is a marriage in which neither the spouse who will be of lower rank, nor any children of the marriage, can have any claim to the possessions or title of the higher ranked spouse. Looking it up it has also been called a ‘left-handed marriage‘ because the left hands are held rather than the right in the ceremony. It has been used rather a lot in royalty to ensure that wives can’t claim that their children have any legal status in relation to the throne. I believe it was also used by the British royal family once or twice.
Our group was rather incensed that the publishers decided to put the ending as a ‘flash’ across the front cover of the paperback. Oh and do look out for the wet hair theme…
Most of the book club evening was spent discussing the London area where the scenes were supposedly set and a) it was fairly local to us; and b) many of the group had actually lived there at one time or another.
These are all serious North London citizens and even if not cockneys (unlike myself) as most were not even born in the UK, they have lived in North London since coming to the UK.
Apparently there was a cafe called the Cosmo on the Finchley Road which they believed was the inspiration for the cafe in the book. They remembered it well and fondly.
Co-incidentally, the next book I picked up to read – The Shanghai Moon – was also about Jews fleeing Germany just as the Morning Gift was.

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