Lest we forget “Sunflower”

Sunflower by Colin McLaren is the fascinating story of “An Anzac, who in his search of adventure and love, gave himself to a dream and survived a nightmare” (Prologue, page 3).  Nineteen year old George Dawson Bingham worked the railway lines as a ganger when Australia joined the efforts of The Great War. George Dawson Bingham keenly volunteered for enlistment and became soldier number 754. His patriotism was partnered by his naive wish to travel the world and have adventures. Enlistment was envisaged to be the ticket to adventure.

Private George Dawson Bingham spend 1527 nights overseas with the Australian Imperial Force and became one of Australian’s longest serving soldiers. He finds himself and loses himself (and many buddies) in Egypt, Gallipoli in Turkey, The Somme in France, London and later back in Australia. His time serving in the Australian Imperial Force was shadowed by a prophecy uttered by a Bedouin fortune-teller and translated to George “This is rare, soldier. She sees death….but to you. It will come four times”. These words torment him relentlessly, until in the end George knows death and also life.

Once back in Australia and without the camaraderie and empathetic support of his lost Anzac mates, George finds himself shell-shocked. So commences yet again another war for George to fight. Only this time, for his personal sanity and survival, he must battle alone.

Years later, “Sunflower” spends many hours relaying Anzac yarns by the fire sitting with his young grandson Colin. The same Colin (McLaren) who is in fact the author of this novel.

The skeleton of this novel is the actual life of the author’s grandfather however the flesh and bone are padded out by fiction. This book is full of Aussie Larikinism, mateship, youthful optimism, the devastation of war, the resilience of humanity and hopeful endurance that is paramount to survival. If you are looking for a remarkable novel, look no further.