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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and gripping
This is an intensely moving novel about an unmarried Australian mother and her search for her boy's father, who has returned to the Armenia he was born in. She travels there just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The sense of loss pervades most of the novel; but the style is spare and unsentimental, and all the more emotionally powerful for that. The novel is...
Published 23 months ago by M. F. Cayley

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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if implausible
This started out brilliantly, following a family on a failing Australian farmstead in the 30s. But then it all started to feel terribly implausible, as Edith sets off for Armenia to seek her child's father...
Nonetheless it's very vivid and haunting writing.
Published 4 months ago by sally tarbox


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and gripping, 26 Aug 2012
By 
M. F. Cayley (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an intensely moving novel about an unmarried Australian mother and her search for her boy's father, who has returned to the Armenia he was born in. She travels there just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The sense of loss pervades most of the novel; but the style is spare and unsentimental, and all the more emotionally powerful for that. The novel is loosely structured like the Epic of Gilgamesh, the ancient tale of a hero who goes to the Underworld in search of his dead friend, and who returns accepting mortality. For those who know the myth, this gives an added layer of resonance to the novel, but the use of the myth is not forced, and you don't need to be familiar with it to appreciate the book. There are good depictions of life on a struggling Australian farm and in wartime Armenia. Not a word is out of place, and I was gripped throughout. Without doubt, this is one of the best modern novels I have read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War, privation and moral quest, 5 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gilgamesh (Paperback)
The Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest known poem, is about a Sumerian king who has everything a man could want bar immortality. The gods dispatch a wild man to teach him his place. The plan goes awry when they become best friends; together they set out to see the world, and, as one quest follows another, they become so arrogant that the gods condemn the wild man to the Underworld and, in the sorrow of losing his friend, Gilgamesh learns humility.

We need to know about this early on in the book as, although the story begins in London and quickly moves to Australia, where a mother and two daughters are ekeing out a bare living on a run-down farm just before the start of WWII, its tale of war, privation and moral quest echoes the Gilgamesh myth at one remove, through the story of Edith, her cousin Leopold and his friend Aram, who is Armenian. We see everything through the eyes of Edith, who, having fallen in love, sets off across war-ravaged Europe to find the father of her child.

Joan London writes evocatively about the places her protagonist travels through and sometimes stays, encompassing London, Istanbul, Batum, Tiflis, Yerevan, Tabriz, Aleppo and Alexandria - strange and exotic to a young Australian woman and dangerous beyond measure once she strays behind the Iron Curtain.

The mythic element is never overstated and Edith comes full circle, with, at the end of the book, her son Jim, setting out with a friend on his own adventure. The book is an engrossing and, at times, enthralling read - a delightful mixture of love-story, thriller and war-time privation and adventure. Winning prizes in Australia, this book seems to have unaccountably missed the best-seller lists in Britain - discover it now.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reason to read, 17 May 2005
This review is from: Gilgamesh (Paperback)
I brought this book while visiting friends in Perth, Australia and was lucky enough to actually attend a lecture given by the author about how the book was written. I found it a very gripping book and got into it very quickly. I found that i was unable to put the book down once i had started it. Read the book, enjoy the story and get lost in Armenia and travel back to Australia during the war. Joan London writes a very good book, and after listening to her and seeing the pictures just brought the whole book to life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book immensely, 17 July 2014
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I enjoyed the book immensely. It is beautifully written and a wonderful account of woman's journey against all kinds of obstacles to find the man she loves. It captures the atmosphere of the various towns in which she stays when en route - and of the various people she meets. It is poignant and beautiful. I love the ending!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable if implausible, 25 Mar 2014
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gilgamesh (Paperback)
This started out brilliantly, following a family on a failing Australian farmstead in the 30s. But then it all started to feel terribly implausible, as Edith sets off for Armenia to seek her child's father...
Nonetheless it's very vivid and haunting writing.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good summer read, 14 Jun 2004
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This review is from: Gilgamesh (Paperback)
I loved this book which is the story of a young woman trying to find the father of her child - set in London, Australia and pre-war Europe/Armenia it's very touching and interesting observations about different cultures and different hardships.
It puts the idea that the grass is greener into perspective.
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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book, 13 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Gilgamesh (Paperback)
This is a really easy read although a little slow at first.
You really feel for the characters. As part of a book group this book was recommended as a good choice. Well worth the time. Would like to read more by this author.
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Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh by Joan London (Paperback - 13 May 2004)
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