Review

The Gift

by Cecelia Ahern

With at least a wink and a nod to beloved holiday classics such
as The Bishop’s Wife plus a tip of the hat to
“The Twilight Zone,” Cecelia Ahern gives us an
interesting and unusual Christmas story. Lou Suffern’s tale
is told as a story within a story, when a policeman relays the main
narrative to a kid arrested for throwing a turkey through his
father’s window, in order to impart a moral to the young
poultry hurler.

Lou is such an ambitious businessman that he is never completely
present when he is physically with his wife, Ruth, and their young
children, Bud and Lucy. Already quite successful, he is always
planning and scheming how to get further ahead at his company, so
that while sitting across from his wife at the table, he is
mentally working business deals, trumping co-workers and impressing
his boss. Lou is admittedly selfish and self-centered, so when he
impulsively offers his coffee to a homeless man, Gabe, it is
entirely out of character, even though the generous act might
possibly be motivated by the fact that Gabe resembles Lou. When Lou
then (again impulsively) finds a job for Gabe in the
company’s mailroom, it prompts those who know him to ask,
“What’s in it for Lou?” Although Lou has no way
of knowing this at the beginning, the answer to that question forms
the plot of THE GIFT.

Meanwhile, Lou continues to alienate his family. He tells
five-year-old Lucy that he will attend her Christmas play without
any true intention of fulfilling his promise. On the night of the
play, he goes to a bar with business associates instead, at the
same time leaving long-suffering Ruth to host Lou’s family
for a meal. Ruth is furious with his present behavior and nurses
bitter memories of his past, including a dalliance with their nanny
--- just one affair among several.

At work, Gabe is a curiosity to Lou. Gabe appears abruptly and
impossibly here and there, sometimes saving Lou and at other times
interfering with Lou’s life and/or scaring him to death.
Worst of all, Lou suspects that Gabe passes judgment on his way of
life. When Lou is caught between two situations, knowing he must
attend an important conference call that is scheduled for the same
time as an equally urgent business meeting, Gabe engineers a
surreal turn of events. Although this solution seemingly at least
temporarily takes care of Lou’s problems, it also offers him
more than a few uncomfortable insights into his own
personality.

Gifts, in many forms, appear throughout the book. There’s
the job offer Lou gives Gabe. A handful of magic pills is another
present, and a dreadful stomach flu is even viewed by one character
as a gift. The biggest gift, though, is the one Lou ultimately
receives.

One of the many characteristics that is so intriguing about
Cecelia Ahern’s work is that a reader never knows what to
expect. Here is an author who is not afraid to take risks. She also
is an incredibly talented storyteller, mesmerizing readers with yet
another page-turner. THE GIFT is an enjoyable read, although
readers will likely be divided on the ending. Some will call it
inevitable, while others are likely to balk. However, this light
fable with a deep message is a worthy, unique and compelling
addition to the holiday canon.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 22, 2011

The Gift
by Cecelia Ahern

  • Publication Date: November 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0061706264
  • ISBN-13: 9780061706264