Title: The Gift of Life
Author: Josephine Moon
Published: April 2nd 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
You’ve been given the gift of life, now go live it.
Gabby McPhee is the owner of The Tin Man, a chic new cafe and coffee roasting house in Melbourne. The struggles of her recent heart transplant are behind her and life is looking up – until a mysterious customer appears in the cafe, convinced that Gabby has her deceased husband’s heart beating inside her chest.
Krystal Arthur is a bereaved widow, struggling to hold herself and her two young boys together since Evan’s death, and plagued by unanswered questions. Why was her husband in another city the night he died? And why won’t his spirit rest?
Krystal is convinced that Gabby holds the clues she needs to move towards a brighter future. Gabby needs Krystal to help her let go of her troubled past. The two women must come together to try to unlock the secrets in Evan’s heart in order to set free their own.
By the internationally bestselling author of The Chocolate Promise, this is a profound and moving novel about the deeper mysteries of love and loss – and the priceless gift of life.
‘Gabby liked the bustle and the noise. It was evidence of life all around her, a life she desperately wanted to be a part of for many years yet.’
Imagine that you were given the ultimate gift of life, a second chance in the face of almost certain death. For Gabby, a coffee connoisseur and cafe owner, a heart transplant gave her another chance to live her life. However, since the life changing operation things have not returned to normal. Gabby can’t put her finger on it, but the appearance of a mysterious woman in her cafe provides the all important link to Gabby’s uneasiness. Josephine Moon’s latest novel, The Gift of Life truly is a gift to any reader that chooses to read this title. It is moving, uplifting, intriguing and life affirming.
The Gift of Life is a book that hit close to home for me. My family has directly experienced organ donation and the process of a heart transplant, which is the focal point of this book. It was a long and emotional journey for us that had both a high moment and a very low experience. Unfortunately, rejection and infection set in and we lost our beloved family member. The feelings are still as vivid and raw today, as much as it was almost twelve years ago. It left a deep impression on our family, and we are incredibly thankful for the gift of life we received. Although I am writing this with tears welling up and our lost family member is close in my thoughts, The Gift of Life for me is an essential book. Josephine Moon’s latest gives a voice to organ donation and the life giving work of transplants.
Moving away from my personal connection to this novel, I have to remark on just how informative, educative and accurate the process of organ donation and the transplant experience was highlighted in The Gift of Life. Moon is mindful of presenting the facts and reality of the situation with a mindfulness that respects those who have been impacted by a similar experience. As our much loved family member passed away not long after the transplant operation, we never got the chance to discuss some of the feelings other organ recipients may have experienced. The acquisition of distinctive personal traits, memories and characteristics of the donor was handled extremely well by Moon. This has been evidenced by her ‘Acknowledgements’ section. It definitely makes for some thought provoking reading, which also made me think that The Gift of Life would be a fantastic book club title. There is just so much to discuss!
Friendship, an unlikely bond, trust and altruism are strong themes in The Gift of Life. I liked how the friendship between Gabby and Krystal developed over time and circumstance. It was an unusual way to form a friendship, but Moon makes us see that it is possible. The way these two women worked as team to solve the mystery underpinning this novel and Evan’s life was hopeful. I appreciated this aspect of the novel very much.
Those who are fans of Josephine Moon’s work will know she always incorporates a food angle within her books and this one of no exception to the rule! Gabby owns The Tin Man, a boutique cafe, known for its coffee roasting. I loved learning more about the coffee roasting business, it is quite an art! Moon takes this opportunity to tie in a great side romance and she throws in some mostly fabulous supporting cast. I had some trouble with Evan’s family, but on the whole, the rest of the cast were appealing and readable.
Readers will really appreciate the central mystery of this novel, it runs parallel to the other events in the story, such as the romance, friendship and the process of change both women undertake after the transplant. I was intrigued from the start by the mystery surrounding Evan’s death. I had plenty of questions and a couple of theories in my mind as to what Evan was doing the night he died. This element of the novel will keep readers on their toes. The final turn of events reminds us of the fragility of life and how it is important to embrace what we have – make the most of it.
The Gift of Life represents another fabulous read from Josephine Moon, who seems to have settled into the life lit genre extremely well. This one struck a personal chord for me and I am sure it will unite all readers.
‘This life, right here, right now. This amazing gift of life.’
The Gift of Life by Josephine Moon is published on April 2nd 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Gift of Life, Josephine Moon visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Gift of Life is book #48 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge