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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Candles at Dawn
by Serpil Ural
Age Range: 12+
Candles at Dawn explores the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War in Turkey 1915. With Turkey allied with the Kaiser, the British and French wanted to open up the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), and open up a route to Russia. Australia and New Zealand were still tied to the British Empire and troops were despatched to Gallipoli.
Australian teenager Ellie and her mother Sandra travel to Turkey to attend the dawn ceremony at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. For Sandra it is a chance to see where her grandfather Frank fought, for Ellie it is a chance to gain answers to her questions on the validity of war. They stay at a boarding house run by Emine and her daughter, Zeynep. A friendship develops between the two girls, who are drawn together when they discover that their grandfathers fought on opposite sides of the same war.
Historical facts are interwoven with fiction to describe in vivid detail the lives and deaths of young Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers where the casualties were heavy on both sides.
Through the questions posed by the young girls the concepts of war, peace, friendship and freedom are explored. Whilst the story is sometimes contrived in order to enable the historical facts to be slotted in, this is an important contribution to historical fiction because it deals with one of the lesser known campaigns of the First World War. Adults and well has children will find this an informative and interesting read.