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Playing with the Moon Hardcover – 1 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan New Writing (1 Jun. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230528872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230528871
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,683,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eliza Graham spent Biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the text books, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and History lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

At Oxford University she read English Literature on a course that regarded anything post about 1930 as too modern to be included. She retains a love of Victorian novels.

Eliza lives in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family in an ancient village. Her interests (still) mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home.

Her first novel, Playing with the Moon, was longlisted for Richard & Judy's Summer Read and World Book Day's Book to Talk About in 2007.

Find out more about Eliza on her website: elizagraham.co.uk.

You can also follow her on Twitter: Eliza_Graham.

Product Description

Review

'Eliza Graham tells a powerful tale, and her characters are well drawn and believable. I enjoyed this book very much'
-- Historical Novels Review

'Eliza Graham tells a powerful tale, and her characters are well drawn and believable.'
-- Historical Novels Review

Book Description

Shattered by a recent bereavement, Minna and husband Tom retreat to an isolated village on the Dorset coast, seeking the solitude that will allow them to cope with their loss and rebuild their foundering marriage. Walking on the beach one day, they unearth a human skeleton. It is a discovery which will plunge Minna into a mystery which will consume her for months to come. The remains are soon identified as those of Private Lew Campbell, a black American GI who, it seems, drowned during a wartime exercise in the area half a century before. Growing increasingly preoccupied with the dead soldier’s fate, Minna befriends a melancholy elderly woman, Felix, who lived in the village during the war. As Minna coaxes Felix’s story from her, it becomes clear that the old woman knows more about the dead GI than she initially let on. Playing with the Moon is an unforgettable novel about memory and loss, about the legacy of war, and the need to reconcile ourselves to our past in order to live with the present.

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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lance Mitchell on 20 July 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is based on the truth of what was happening in southern England in the build up to the Allied invasion of France in the Second World War. It also plays on the connections between those times and the early 21st century. These connections are built on the characters who have grown from the children of the earlier period to complex adults, who have harboured their personal secrets through all of those decades.

The opening chapter commences with the discovery of the skeleton of a GI who lost his life before the invasion started. But the mystery around how he died and who, if anyone, witnessed his untimely death, is something which is explored as the chapters switch back and forth between the time zones. The couple who discover the bones on the beach have their own problems, and their stress adds to the mounting tension that links the characters who have survived the fifty-something years since those horrible events.

The threads, as you would expect, all come together in the end, but I found that as I read a chapter in one time zone, I couldn't wait to get back to the last, where I knew I would find myself in the next. Confused? You won't be if you take the trouble to pick up this book and read it. It is fairly easy to follow, I promise you, and it was a pleasure to read. I shall definitely be first in line for Eliza Graham's next book. I can't wait!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Kabak on 3 July 2007
Format: Hardcover
An intriguing opening that keeps you hooked from then on--PLAYING WITH THE MOON is a very difficult book to part with for too long.

"I push past his restraining arm and see what he's dug up: a long white object. A bone... it's a human leg bone. Tom digs a little more and exposes a row of ivory-coloured arches. A ribcage."

The writing is stellar, the prose vivid, and the atmosphere perfect as we seamlessly switch between the present and the nineteen forties. The players in this poignant tale will stay with you for some time. I absolutely loved it.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book, and found my imagination was working overtime, imagining how Fontwell looked, and what life was like for the villagers during WW2. I loved Felix's character, although I don't know how she managed to live with all the guilt she felt she was to blame for! I can't wait to read more from Eliza Graham now. I googled her name and saw a very interesting article about the backstory for the book, which I found fascinating:

"About ten years ago I visited a small village on the south coast of England--Tyneham. Tyneham had been evacuated in 1943 so that Allied troops could use it for D-Day practice. The inhabitants had never been allowed to return, although the village and the surrounding countryside and coast had been opened to the public at certain times of the year.

I was spellbound. The village, with its gently decaying houses, cottages, church and manor house, seemed to reach out and pull me to itself. I stood in the schoolroom looking at the essays and pictures the village children had produced, describing seaside walks and rambles through the fields and I wondered what had happened to those boys and girls. What a sacrifice--to give up your home for a future Allied victory. Of course, there are many deserted villages in Europe. Some, like Oradour in France, were abandoned because everyone was murdered. In comparison Tyneham's fate was less cruel. But that, and the knowledge that many of the village's picturesquely decaying cottages were probably damp and cold to live in, didn't lessen Tyneham's impact on me. It seemed to haunt me.

Then I read--or saw--something about African-American GIs in Britain during WW2 and how many young British women were attracted to them, finding them gentle, humorous and kind boyfriends.
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Format: Paperback
I'm going to go easy on Eliza Graham because this is her first book. Writers are allowed to have a book or two before really hitting their stride and I think this writer is going to be really good once she finds the right story idea.

But she's not quite there yet. On the face of it the idea's OK: couple damaged by tragedy discover the skeleton of a soldier missing since WWII buried in the sand of the beach near where they are staying. Solving the mystery of how the man died helps Minna (the woman of the couple) deal with her loss and helps Felix, a local woman who was involved in the death, resolve her own ghosts of the past.

Yes, but there are so many books on this theme: dealing with tragedy, resolving the past, putting the dead to rest, that the treatment has to be really fresh to carry my interest. Sadly, Graham doesn't quite manage it. She has some lovely turns of phrase and her description of the disintegrating marriage of Minna and Tom is excellent. Her handling of the sections set in the 1940s, when we meet Felix as a child, are less assured and she hinges her plot on an unlikely, clandestine love affair which failed to suspend my disbelief. However, if she continues to get published, I'll watch out for her work and see if she improves as I think she will.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Ringstrom on 17 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this book in hardcover, and it's not to be missed. The story weaves between two timelines: the modern-day Minna and Felix grappling with their own ghosts, and Felix as a girl in a tiny village that must be evacauted so soldiers can practice landing on the beach. The characters are engrossing, the story is rich, layered and developed and the writing is graceful. This is a wonderful debut and I can't wait to read more.
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