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849 Reviews
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108 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of love, war, orphans and elephants
This is a story which engages the heart at many turns of the tale. A young British schoolmarm escapes from Burma during WWII with her orphan charges, unwanted girls who are the unwanted results of illicit Burmese and British relationships. On the danger-fraught journey to India she encounters courage, betrayal, and love However, the real protagonists of the story are the...
Published 18 months ago by Bibliophile 3

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly awful
The only thing that kept me reading right to the end of this novel was sheer comic value.
The characters were drawn from the very worst kind of stereotypes and the writing was lazy and descended further into absurdity as the story went on. It's obvious that the author kept one eye on this possibly being turned into a film. Shame because in the hands of a good writer,...
Published 1 month ago by Kerry Rocha


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108 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of love, war, orphans and elephants, 20 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: ELEPHANT MOON (Kindle Edition)
This is a story which engages the heart at many turns of the tale. A young British schoolmarm escapes from Burma during WWII with her orphan charges, unwanted girls who are the unwanted results of illicit Burmese and British relationships. On the danger-fraught journey to India she encounters courage, betrayal, and love However, the real protagonists of the story are the elephants who demonstrate intelligence, courage and parental love. For me this made the story special as these magnificent animals are being killed at unprecedented rates by ivory poachers. I hope everyone who reads this story will fall in love with the elephants and vow to work in some small way for elephant conservation.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling account, 21 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Elephant Moon (Hardcover)
I was honestly surprised by how gripped I was by this enthralling story set in Burma during World War II. I knew the author to be a distinguished journalist who has worked in some very dangerous locations and a witty and compassionate writer on many topics but he has drawn on all that experience to create a well researched and highly readable story made all the more harrowing and moving by being based on real events. I found myself caring about the fate of the characters [ including the elephants] and read the book quickly, anxious to find out their fate.

At the end of the book I found myself wanting to know more about the events on which it was based and wondering about the right actress to play Grace , the attractive [ although occasionally infuriating] heroine when the book is turned into a film , as surely it must.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really loved the book and the storyline., 28 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: ELEPHANT MOON (Kindle Edition)
I didn't give this five stars although I hovered over the five stars. I loved this book but I felt that it lost some traction about 2/3 way through because there was a lot of description of the war as opposed to continuing with the real story line. I was gripped, nonetheless and have recommended the book to others in confidence that they will enjoy it, as long as they like a bit of history too?
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars None, 20 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Elephant Moon (Kindle Edition)
What a ripping good yarn!. This was a really enjoyable read and I got so caught up in it I missed my station. Great to have a female protagonist who is resilient but beievable. The elephants are enchanting characters and you got the impression the author really cared about them. The characters back storys are interesting and for me educational as they provide an opportunity for the author to fill us in on the actual history of the time leaving me wanting to learn more. The story is vividly told, I was in that jungle. It would make a great film and I hope someone has the sense to make it into one. The truth at the heart of it desrves to be heard and the author has done a great job in the telling.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced fun, 7 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Elephant Moon (Kindle Edition)
Firstly, I should declare my interest: I share a publisher with John Sweeney. However, I wouldn't review this book positively unless I felt it was really worthy of such a review. Elephant Moon is a pacy story and a great read. I particularly enjoyed the feisty character of Grace and the bumbling ways of Mr Peach. Sweeney has managed to inject plenty of humour into the novel despite the fact that the true events it is based on were very serious indeed - making this fast-moving adventure a lot of fun.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!, 20 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Elephant Moon (Kindle Edition)
What a marvellous book! And oh how I loved Grace. This story would make a brilliant film. I too would love to know more about the real history behind this tale and the research and commitment to telling it has paid off. I highly recommend this novel and I look forward to John Sweeney's next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it, but with reservations, 7 Sept. 2014
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: ELEPHANT MOON (Kindle Edition)
This novel (based on a true story) tells of the journey of a young English schoolteacher, Grace, who undertakes to escort the sixty-three half-caste orphans (the products of the illicit couplings of Western soldiers and Burmese or Indian girls) from Burma during WW2. The children are low priority, because of who they are, and Grace receives little help. However, she finally encounters some soldiers who are undertakiing the same journey, but with the help of elephants, and after some persuasion, they agree to escort Grace and her charges. Pursued by the Japanese, who are always close behind, the party encounter all kinds of hazards - both natural and otherwise - in what turns out to be a perilous and at times life-threatening journey.

The story is undoubtedly gripping (hence the four stars), and the courage and intelligence of the elephants at times heart-breaking (they are the true heroes of the novel). But I do have reservations. Firstly, the novel is somewhat unbalanced. In several places, too much space is given to flashbacks which are not really essential to the plot. And I really do wonder whether a nice English girl would (at that time) have fallen so easily in love and had sexual relations; and this with two separate men in surprisingly short order. Also, the novel's ending is wrapped up very quickly and neatly, and I felt this could have been managed better.

However - I have to recommend this novel, as I found it gripping and very readable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly awful, 30 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: ELEPHANT MOON (Kindle Edition)
The only thing that kept me reading right to the end of this novel was sheer comic value.
The characters were drawn from the very worst kind of stereotypes and the writing was lazy and descended further into absurdity as the story went on. It's obvious that the author kept one eye on this possibly being turned into a film. Shame because in the hands of a good writer, this premise could have been brilliant.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant but not astounding read, 10 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: ELEPHANT MOON (Kindle Edition)
Grace is the teacher of sixty-three half-caste orphan girls in a Church of England school in Rangoon, Burma. At the fall of Rangoon and Burma to the Japanese she undertakes the evacuation of these girls to India and safety. Along the way she encounters danger, betrayal, cowardice but also bravery, spirit and love. She and the girls are ultimately rescued by working elephants who are also being evacuated from Burma by the head of the British Teak company and their flight from the encroaching Japanese is made possible by these wondrous creatures.

This book hovers between a 3 and 4 star for me. The storyline is interesting and complex, the subject inspiring, the prose is descriptive and evocative but the book is let down by the characters. They are described rather than revealing themselves and the reader doesn't get to know them emotionally. It is very hard to make any connection with the characters whether they be good or bad; I didn't find myself rooting for Grace and the children or reviling Gregory, nor had any sense of Grace's growing feelings for the Jem or Peach. The characters that really shine are the elephants and I felt a greater attachment to their welfare than to the human characters whose back stories are told in large lumps rather than being revealed by the characters themselves. The dialogue between the characters is often stilted and unsatisfying whereas the elephants seem to lumber right off the page.

The writing shows a great deal of historical research into the events of the time and that aspect was most interesting: the Jiffs, the movements in India and Burma to rid themselves of the British, the British attitudes and way of life in Rangoon and the events of the fall of Rangoon and Burma.

It was an interesting and pleasant read but could have been a superb one if the human characters had been as powerful as the elephants.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Complete Lack of Character Credibility, 23 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Elephant Moon (Paperback)
After reading about a quarter of this book, I've just finished giving it to a charity shop and regret having wasted my money and time buying it. If you read through the one and two star ratings on this site you'll find the same sentiments as I felt, simply expressed in different form : Poorly developed and impossible-to-believe characters, wooden plot development, a flat, emotionless delivery, etc. The review that particularly resonated for me was written by a gentleman who was actually in Burma at the time. Based on his experiences there, he deplores the author's slip-shod use of modern jargon and his two-dimensional characterisation of all the Brits who were there as being simply a collection of shallow, empty-headed racists.

My feeling is that the author wrote this book as a personal crusade to right, (and then re-write), what he feels were wrong British actions done during that period of history when much of the world had been portioned up into the empires of six European countries. Unfortunately, as I read along in this book I kept feeling more and more the way I do whenever a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon pitches up on my doorstep and starts trying to sell me their particular package of beliefs. Probably it's always difficult for any person caught up in a zealot's crusade to step back and see how their spiel actually appears to others who don't necessarily share the same viewpoint. At least, that certainly appears to be the case for this particular author.
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ELEPHANT MOON
ELEPHANT MOON by John Sweeney
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