Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham

Playing with the Moon is Eliza Graham’s first novel and it’s very good.

It begins when Minna and Tom, who are staying at a cottage in an isolated village on the Dorset coast east of Lulworth, discover a human skeleton on the beach and dog tags inscribed LEWIS J CAMPBELL and a number. American military officials confirmed his identity as Private Lew Campbell, believed to have died in 1944 during training exercises for the Normandy landings.

Minna and Tom are trying to come to terms with the death of their baby. Tom is struggling to carry on with his business, which is in financial difficulty, and Minna, who is recovering from a breakdown, is unable to talk to him about her grief. She becomes absorbed in finding out what had lead to Campbell’s death, when she meets Felix an elderly woman who had lived in the village during the war. A fascinating story slowly emerges. Moving from 1943 to the present, the story of Felix and the American GI is interwoven with the story of Minna and Tom and the events that lead to the death of their son. Each story is mysterious and tragic. Both Minna and Felix are overcome by their grief and as they tentatively get to know each other they pour out their stories and draw comfort from each other.

The book deals with memory, the power of memory, with loss, grief and bereavement. It’s also about war, the legacy of war, and of how to make sense of our lives. I found it a compelling book to read. Although it deals with tragic events it does so gently and with compassion.

It seems to me that Playing With the Moon captures what life was like during the 1940s. It was quite by coincidence that I read this book just before Remembrance Sunday and not long after I’d read One Fine Day. There is a recurring theme here and it has set me off on a trail to find out more about the Second World War.

14 thoughts on “Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham

  1. This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I’ll have to see if we have it here. I, too, am off on a WWII reading binge; well, just one book really, but I had read it before and wished to again. So far, I am enjoying it just as much as the first time.


  2. This reminds me of a story told by my father. In the second world war in 1944 the Germans rounded up all able man between 16 and 65 to work in the German weapon factories. My dad refused and he was in hiding with several jews on a farm on the moors. The hiding place was beneath the stable of an “angry” horse who would bite anyone but the farmer. The Germans, suspicious, often came to the farm but the “angry” horse made sure that the hiding place was never found. This was of course not in England where I now live, but in Holland. Apart from this story my parents never talked about the war and it was not taught in Holland either. It wasn’t until my daughter studied both world wars that I learned much, much more about it when we both watched The World At War on tv. Strange eh?


  3. I do like the sound of this! I had a thing for WWII fiction for a while. I really enjoyed the Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard (but you probably know them already). Of course now I’m typing this my mind has gone blank, but Juliet Gardiner’s Wartime Britain 1939-1945 is a wonderful non-fiction account of what it was really like.


  4. Kay, which book are you reading? It’s funny how one book leads to another!Middle Ditch, that’s an amazing story, the angry horse was a godsend.Litlove, I loved the Cazalet books too. I wish I had time to re-read them! I’ll see if I can find the Gardiner book, thanks for the reference.


  5. I picked up Winds of War by Herman Wouk again. The sequel is War and Remembrance. I read these many years ago but, for me, they were just wonderful, encompassing the entire WWII experience. My husband and I just finished watching all the Foyle’s War DVDs that are available at this time and we loved those as well.


  6. I am the author of Playing with the Moon and I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!Middle ditch–what a wonderful story about your father! And what a clever horse.The Cazalet books are excellent! I’ve read them all several times.


  7. Kay, I haven’t read that – more to look out for. I loved the Foyle’s War series!Litlove, I went shopping this morning and couldn’t resist buying Jane Gardiner’s book – it was the last one in the shop!Eliza, thanks for visiting – it’s a great book.


  8. This book sounds familiar–I will have to see if it has been published over here. I probably read about it, but wasn’t sure. It’s nice to get a recommendation first. I’ll have to add it to my list now.


  9. Hi, it’s me again. The Winds of War was made into a series with Robert Mitchum. I think it was in the eighties. I loved it! I never read the book so must find it. I also try and see if it is on dvd. I would love to see it again. I found recently I Claudius on dvd. Nothing like that is on tv now. Another writer I enjoy is Kate Atkinson. Her novel Behind The Scenes At The Museum is amazing. I would love to make this into a film script but I have been told that the script right has been bought. You see, that’s what I do. I write scripts and Middle Ditch is a radio serial.


  10. I agree! We belong to the Amazon DVD rental club and recently enjoyed Fortunes of War with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. It was so good that I almost cried when we watched the last episode–I missed those wonderful characters! I don’t think TV companies would commit to something like that today.


  11. Middle Ditch, oh I loved I Claudius. I don’t know Winds of War, and although I enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories I didn’t get on with Behind the Scenes at the Museum.Eliza, I think I’d like Fortunes of War – I think it must be based on Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy? I’m reading the first book – The Great Fortune.


  12. This book sounds very good. Thanks for sharing it here. I also loved the Cazalet books that have been mentioned here. Have you read any of EJH’s other books? It’s interesting that your recent reads are following a theme.


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