Paperback edition to be published October 2014
As the Second World War rages, the Japanese Imperial Army enters Burma and the British rulers prepare to flee. But the human legacy of the British Empire will be left behind in the shape of sixty-two Anglo-Burmese children, born to local women after affairs with foreign men. Half-castes, they are not acknowledged by either side and they are to be abandoned with no one to protect them. Their teacher, Grace Collins, a young Englishwoman, refuses to join the European evacuation and instead sets out to deliver the orphans to the safety of India. She faces impossible odds because between her and India lie one thousand miles of jungle, mountains, rivers and the constant, unseen threat of the Japanese. With Japanese soldiers chasing them down, the group s chances of survival shrink – until they come across a herd of fifty-three elephants who, with their awesome strength and kindness, quickly become the orphans only hope of survival. Based on a true story, Elephant Moon is an unforgettable epic tale of courage and compassion in the midst of brutality and destruction.
Since it was first published in hardback and ebook in October 2012, Elephant Moon has sold over 160,000 copies.
‘If you were to relocate Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse to Burma in the Second World War, with elephants taking the sentimental role from the horses, you might end up with something like Elephant Moon by John Sweeney. It is a tender and loving tribute to ‘Nature’s great masterpiece… The only harmless great thing’, as John Donne described the elephant, as well as an insight into one of the forgotten battlegrounds of the war.’ LITERARY REVIEW
‘This novel is based on a little-known true story of the Second World War when a herd of 53 elephants was used by a young English schoolteacher to rescue a band of orphans in Burma and transport them to the safety of India. Their incredible journey is filled with adventure, tragedy and love, as you might expect. But, most thrilling of all is the emergence of the elephants as real characters with distinct personalities. This is not done in a sentimental Jungle Book kind of way. Rather, it is true to Darwin’s description of these creatures as being possessed of many of the same senses as humans, including the capacity for jealousy, suspicion and revenge. The author – who is also an award-winning Panorama reporter – takes advantage of this phenomenon and scores a bull’s-eye with an excellent and ingenious plot.’ DAILY MAIL
‘A knowledgeable, compelling story of survival, set in one of the lesser-known theaters of WWII’ KIRKUS REVIEWS