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by Karl Gibbons
Xlibris AU

"We cried for the loss our friends, we cried for the loss of our innocence, we cried for the loss of our youth."

Oscar Wilde is credited with saying, “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” In this novel, however, it is the richness of spirit, not necessarily wealth, that enables old friends to reclaim their history, put ghosts to rest, and finally move on.

The past that clings to two Australians, Johnno and Bib, began at university and then was forged in the fires of World War II. Johnno was the pilot and Bib the grounds crewman who helped make sure their plane was flyable. Now, on a farm near Jeparit, Bib, with help from some of his former crew, has restored the original Spitfire that bound them all together. Yet their formidable accomplishment seems incomplete until Johnno (now a surgeon in Melbourne) learns of their presence and journeys to meet them. What follows is an Aussie gathering encompassing wives, families, friends, and more. It’s a reunion that cements old friendships, creates new ones, and sets them all on a quest to bury the past properly in order to move on to the future honestly.

Gibbons relies heavily on dialogue throughout the narrative. His conversations have a ring of authenticity. He also proves adept at capturing the behavior and emotions of each of his characters—not just Johnno and Bib, but their wives and mates as well. There are few, if any, false notes in how he depicts one’s reticence to relive wartime heroics or another’s commitment to do right by their deceased comrade. A revelation near the end regarding a secret wartime romance is particularly moving. This is a novel that aims for the heart and often hits its target.

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