Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham

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Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A near-perfect story about the friendship of two women with sixty years between them who are brought together by the discovery of a body buried in the sand. It's an un-put-downable story of loss and memory.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: June 2007
Publisher: Macmillan New Writing
ISBN: 978-0230528871

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Minna and Tom lost their baby son in a road accident only a few months ago. Needing isolation they rent a house on the Dorset coast and try to come to terms with Benjamin's death and rebuild their marriage. Minna is actually planning to tell Tom that their marriage is over when they find a human skeleton partly buried in the sand. Private Lew Campbell, a black American GI, seems to have drowned in a wartime exercise in the cove some sixty years before.

Perhaps her mind needed the distraction but Minna becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to the soldier and makes friends with Felix, an old lady who is visiting the area for the first time since her family was evacuated from the village during the war. Felix, it soon emerges, knows a lot more about what happened to Lew Campbell than she's been willing to admit.

I loved this book. It had me completely hooked before I'd read the first page and I didn't put it down until I'd read the last. The characters are compelling. Minna is still in a fog over her son's death and seems able to feel little, particularly for Tom who's struggling to keep his business going at a distance and their heads financially above the water. His own grief is forced to take a back seat but the misery of the couple is palpable. They're living in what used to be the doctor's house before the village was evacuated and Felix was the daughter of the widowed doctor.

The narrative switches between the present and the nineteen forties seamlessly as the stories interweave and Minna coaxes the story of what happened from Felix. The voices are distinct as both deal with their sense of loss - Minna of her child and possibly her marriage whilst Felix has a sense of displacement. She lost her mother at a young age and then the wartime evacuation cost her the family home and her friendship with David who lived with the local Squire. There's another voice there too - that of the gentle-hearted black GI who died in the cove; a curiosity at a time when black people were virtually unknown, particularly in the Dorset countryside.

It's a few days now since I finished the book but the characters are still vividly alive in my mind. I find myself wondering about them and thinking about how they all needed to let go of the past - Minna, her son and Felix her memories - before they could move on. I've tried too to work out how Eliza Graham produced such a strong story in a relatively short novel. There's little in the way of literary artifice and just one coincidence which I thought was slightly overworked. Apart from that it's just superlative writing.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag. We also have a review of The One I Was by Eliza Graham.

If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy You, Me and Him by Alice Peterson. You might enjoy Another Day Gone by Eliza Graham, but Playing With The Moon is better.

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Buy Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Playing With The Moon by Eliza Graham at


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