Ariadne's Thread by Gavin James

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Ariadne's Thread by Gavin James

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A meticulously-researched and well-told story of two young people in World War II. There's a romance at the heart of the story but it's not for the faint-hearted.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 856 KB Date: August 2011
Publisher: Gavin James
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0957019201

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Ariadne's Thread is the story of Elena Avgoulas who decided in May 1941 that she would have to leave Chios, the Greek island where she was born, until the war was over. German soldiers had occupied the island and whilst they were there it would not be home to her, her mother and sister and brothers. The brothers were in the Greek army. Her mother would run the family bakery and her sister would support their mother. Elena was a medical student in Athens and had a nursing qualification; she decided that she would make use of this in the war effort. And so began a journey that would take her to Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, Italy and Germany in the course of the war.

It's also the story of Captain Will Thomson – Cambridge graduate, linguist and member of one of those divisions of the army which didn't encourage discussion of their activities, even with their nearest and dearest. Like Elena, his brother had been killed at the beginning of the war and both were driven to fight for what they believed to be right – he with guile and weaponry and she with what limited medical facilities were available and often in no less danger than Will. They met in Cairo, the threads of their lives crossing and interweaving with both knowing that it was almost certain that they would have no choice but to go their separate ways.

Oh, what a story this is. You'll have to search to find out, but it was inspired by the life of the author's mother-in-law, although this is far more than the retelling of a family story. It's backed by meticulous research (you can check out the bibliography) and I promise that you are going to be out there as the fighting rages or dealing with the aftermath. There's a romance at the heart of this story but it's not one for the faint-hearted or for those unable to accept the effect that war has on those involved. It's also a real page-turner.

You can't help but warm to Elena. She's feisty, brave and honest. Whilst she's got no problems with treating enemy soldiers if that's what's required, she knows that forgiveness and forgetting isn't on the cards any time soon. She's human, after all. Will's a gentleman – kind, considerate and thoughtful – but when violence is a part of your service life how do you stop it bleeding through into 'normal' life, even if the life you encounter is rarely normal? They're great characters who live on in your mind after you've finished reading.

If I've a quibble about the book it's that the editing could have been better. Some of the details about the war could have been truncated – occasionally I felt as though I was reading a text book – and the text would have benefited greatly from a final proof read.

I'd like to thank the author for inviting Bookbag to review this great story.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy The Thread by Victoria Hislop, The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go and Swimming to Ithaca by Simon Mawer.

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Buy Ariadne's Thread by Gavin James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Ariadne's Thread by Gavin James at


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