Book Club: The Greatest Gift

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Author: Rachael Johns
ISBN: 9781489241153
RRP: $32.99
Publisher: Harlequin
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Rachael Johns is a West Australian author that goes from strength to strength. I have read and reviewed all of her work; her early ebooks with Carina Press, rural romance, Mills & Boon and lately her move into Women’s Fiction (or life-lit as she likes to call it). Johns is an author who has long made it onto my Must Have list so I was always going to read this book.

Thanks to Harlequin I was able to read it months early and I am glad that I did. The Greatest Gift is a sensitively written, and well researched, story of fertility and motherhood that also focuses on relationships, family and hot air ballooning.

Fertility can be quite an emotional subject and these days it’s quite common to hear people lamenting the unfairness of it all. There are so many people out there who would give anything to have children and can’t while there are so many children suffering with parents who don’t deserve them.

The range of fertility issues faced by couples is quite broad and I think once you hit your 30s there’s a good chance you have come in contact with someone who has fertility issues. Some issues need just a little help, some need a lot and there are people who simply will not be able to overcome their fertility issues without the help of a donor of some kind. In Australia those donors can be quite hard to come by, depending on the donor you need, and due to the laws in this area. Rachael Johns has done fascinating research to ensure that her tale is accurate and insightful, as well as captivating.

The Greatest Gift, I really have no idea where to start because this book was an amazing gift.

Harper Drummond is a successful radio host who loves her career; she’s happily married, financially secure and loves her friends. Afternoons with Harper is a popular show with interview requests coming in constantly; aloowing Harper and her producer Lilia to be selective about who they bring on the show. Harper’s guests are inspiring and they give back to the community, the legacy they leave behind will be remembered and eventually it leaves Harper questioning the contribution she makes. She’s popular, entertaining and empathetic and she is very good at what she does but we see her starting to wonder if that’s enough. She’s not feeling fulfilled which leads her to explore ways she might be able to make a difference, even if only in one couple’s life.

Harper and Samuel are a power couple dedicated to their careers and though they are both very set in their decision not to have children, their reasons are very different. Harper is a character that we get to know intimately, throughout the novel she shares her history so we learn what makes her tick and why she has made the decisions she has.

Dual perspective story telling sees us also meet Claire, blissfully married and happily working in the thriving family business. She thought she had come to terms with the idea of never having children but it seems that there is still an emptiness that she feels can only be filled by motherhood.

Johns has penned a tale that will touch many readers. It explores a range of different family dynamics from both ends of the spectrum and in between. Big families, small families, happy families and dysfunctional ones; they are all here and they go a long way in demonstrating how your family helps to shape you.

The Greatest Gift is a story of relationships, in all shapes and forms, from romantic relationships and friendships to working relationships and the bonds that form when strangers come together with a common goal.

The characters are relatable and realistic people with concerns that many of us face at one time or another. I felt for Claire, she tried so hard to avoid attachment because of her infertility until meeting someone who could convince her to take a chance and loved her enough that they could face anything together.

Harper is thirty-four and she starts to question the legacy she will leave. She knows she doesn’t want children so what will be the mark she leaves on the world. I’m sure most of us can relate to some extent. That feeling you get that everyone around you is doing something with their lives, and what are you doing, what have you got to show for it. She is a character that I fell totally in love with; the growth and self-discovery she did throughout the novel was quite emotional to watch.

The Greatest Gift contains some unexpected twists that completely threw me, and broke my heart. The story line was travelling along quite nicely and then you get smacked in the heart with a sledgehammer, more than once. I was completely captivated from start to finish and I absolutely loved the surprises in store at the end. I had formed some theories about how I thought it would all end, I should have known that Johns wouldn’t take the predictable route and I was completely wrong.

Once again Rachael Johns has written a story that will appeal to many different types of reader and it is clear that her talent is becoming more finely honed with every release. The Greatest Gift is a story of the best laid plans being laughed at by the universe. It is told with warmth and empathy as it deals with issues that have touched my life, and the lives of many I know.

This is a book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

The Greatest Gift is book #35 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Rachael Johns can be found on Twitter, Facebook and her Website.

Thanks to HQ Fiction 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Greatest Gift so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I look forward to hearing what they think.

The Greatest Gift is published by HQ Fiction and is available from October 23, 2017 through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold. And, if you pre-order from Booktopia all of the pre-order copies are signed.


20 thoughts on “Book Club: The Greatest Gift

  1. Another win for Rachael Johns! I agree that her books are getting better and better. There’s a believably and depth to her characters which make for believable and engaging books. This is one I could not put down and know will be passed around to several other fans I know.

    Rachael deals with some difficult content with grace and excellent research. Such a heartfelt story which I would highly recommend. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in reading and reviewing her latest novel.

  2. Harper Drummond, the host of a radio show, decides to donate her eggs to a couple after hosting a show where she discussed egg donation with a couple and their donor.

    Claire and Jasper have always wanted a child of their own. However, Claire is infertile. They decide to find an egg donor to make their dreams come true.

    This book started off promising. Two very different women, who meet under extraordinary circumstances, and share something that not many people do. The story line at first was engaging and inviting.

    However, as the story went on, I found myself being less engaged, and towards the end, I started to get bored of the book. It was too predictable, and I slowly started disliking the characters, especially Jasper. Over time, the books became less relatable and more frustrating.

    In the book, a major event happens, which changes the story. Unfortunately, I found it a little predictable, and this is when I started to lose interest in the story. I think it’s because I was expecting things to go differently in the story.

    Rachel’s writing style is magical. She has a way with words that draw you into a story, and really connect you with the characters. I felt very emotionally connected with the characters at the start of the story.

    Overall, I don’t think this book is for me. I’m glad I finished it, and I will endeavour to read more of Rachel’s books.

  3. The Greatest Gift is another stellar read from Rachael Johns. Dealing sensitively and intelligently with the complicated moral and legal issues surrounding egg donation, The Greatest Gift, will have you questioning what you would do in a similar situation.

    So, the story… the first chapter confused me and left me wondering for a long time, until it all clicked, but the real story begins a little further in. We follow the lives of Claire and Jasper Lombard who are facing the struggles that come with female infertility. This is no happily ever after, she magically gets pregnant story, there is plenty of reality in this work of fiction.

    Claire has always wanted nothing more than to be a mother, but she’s going to have a struggle to get there until Harper Drummond comes into her life in a somewhat unusual way.

    Harper is a successful radio journalist who is dissatisfied with her life and decides to make a contribution to the world in a meaningful way, but it comes with many more far-reaching consequences than she could ever have imagined.

    Rachael has again created characters who walk into your heart and then she shatters the reader just as we think we’re nearing a particularly happy occasion. This made me want to put the book down and not come back to it, but we all need to know what happens next, so I dried my tears and got back into it and by the end the reader is fairly satisfied.

    There is plenty more to this story, but I can’t go too in-depth without giving too much away. I’m still a little torn about the ending, but it’s open-ended enough that there could be more to come, or we may leave Jasper’s story here.

    This novel will have you laughing and in tears in equal measure, actually lots and lots of tears, and this story will stay with you long after you read the last page.

  4. Thank you for the opportunity to review the latest book by Rachael Johns,,.This was a great read. I enjoyed the storyline re egg donation and surrogacy, especially Claire’s story. I found the writing style easy to follow, enjoying the story and found it a light, easy read that explored real life experiences. I’m a huge fan!

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