I love books about books, when they are done right. I fall for every Da Vinci Code inspired title as well as the lost diary found stories. Of course this would include anything from "real" books as characters to the diaries mentioned above to the fictional tales of Shadow of the Wind. I love them. They're fun, they usually have a historical twist to them, and they fall into each and every category and genre there is. Some are strict mystery, I've come across horror that uses this theme, some are more literary titles. I'll give them all a shot. Yes, it is another of the patterned sort-of gimmicks that attracts my browsing attention in shops!
Author Jane Johnson is an interesting one herself. She has worked in the books industry for 20 years (per her website) and worked on Tolkien's titles, Peter Jackson's film adaptations of LOTR, has written a series of children's titles, and published separate titles under two pseudonyms. Today she works as the Fiction Publishing Director for Harpercollins UK (a title that would make any bibliophile envious). Now she's got a new title being released on May 6, the topic of which was inspired by research into her own family's history.
The Tenth Gift, aka Crossed Bones in the UK, involves two women who are linked through a common interest, but really much more than that. Present day, Julia Lovat's longtime lover has decided to break it off and try to make a go of it with his wife. As a parting gift, he gives Julia an old book called "The Needle Woman's Glorie," a centuries old piece featuring embroidery patterns of the time. Within the pages of the book is something of much more historical value than the patterns, though. It seems the original owner of the book was a girl called Catherine Anne Tregenna, Cat for short. In 1625, Cat begins to write her own story within the pages of the book. In July of that year, Cat is kidnapped by corsairs from Morocco and taken to Africa where she is to be sold into slavery. The more Julia learns of Cat's tale, the more questions she has about what happened to the girl. Cat's story will have a profound affect on Julia's own life and send her on an adventure that begins to resemble Cat's own.
I have to say that this book is absolutely living up to each and every expectation I had for it. Johnson weaves an intricate tale that I can only compare to the likes of Carol Goodman. It's a literary adventure with a dash of mystery, romance, adventure, and history all woven together in a really great read!