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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Michael Morpurgo - Listen to the Moon

This review was written and read out live on the bookshow by Richard Larn on 5th Feb 2015.
*Please note it does have spoilers.
Michael Morpurgo has a gift of writing that equally appeals to both children and adults, and his latest book “Listen to the Moon” , which is set in Scilly, will not disappoint anyone.

The story concerns a New York family; father who is Canadian by birth
volunteers to join the British Army early in WW1 and goes off to France. Wounded, he is sent to a hospital near London and his family decided they must go to England to give him comfort and support. They embark
on the liner Lusitania and her sinking drowns all the family except for the 12 year old daughter. She and her friend Christine climb onto the ship’s grand piano floating in the sea and drift off into the Atlantic, but Chris disappears one night, leaving the American girl all alone.
        A German submarine rescues her,  and a sailor named Wilhelm Kruz becomes a friend, giving her a blanket embroidered with his name when they land her on St.Helen’s. Alone, no food, only rain water to drink she shelters in the Pest House till found by Alfie Wheatcroft, the young

son of the Veronica Farm family. Traumatised by her experience and unable to speak, when asked her name she can only say “Lucy”, and after weeks of silence becomes known as “Lucy Lost”. Only when Dr. Crow brings her a gramophone and Mozart records, including the classical piano piece “Andanta Grazioso”, does Lucy get out of bed, and thereafter plays and hums the tune for hours on end.
        Both Alfie and Lucy have a traumatic time at Tresco school where Mr Beagley – Beastley Beagley as the children call him, targets her as  possibly being German and an enemy, because of the blanket she continues to wear carrying the name Wilhelm embroidered on it. Lucy Lost turns out to be a brilliant pianist and the teachers helper, Miss Nightingale, encourages and befriends her.
            At Veronica Farm, Silly Uncle Billy who lives in a shed is restoring his boat, the Hispanolia, in which he is going to sail off to Treasure Island, “Yo Ho Ho, & a bottle of Rum”. He takes her to sea, finds a raft with two German sailors, one dead from U-19, the survivor being Wilhelm Kruz
and  brings them back to St. Mary’s. Wilhelm asks Dr.Crow in halting English, “Where is the girl, I do not see her?” No one understands. Then Lucy sees him, her speech is restored and in front of everyone she thanks Wilhelm for saving her life and the gift of the blanket, which she gives him back, telling everyone her real name is Merry McIntyre.  Wilhelm becomes a POW,  Lucy’s soldier father finds her on Scilly in an emotional reunion. He asks if she still hummed the tune Andanta Grazioso when she looked up at the moon at night – a pact they had made before he left for the war – Listen To the Moon, he said to her, and we will be together, no matter where.
         Lucy and Alfie eventually marry, visit America and return to Bryher, and every one lives happily ever after.
         It’s a beautiful quite moving story, and I highly recommend it.

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