I’m an unashamed fan of Louise Beech’s writing. I loved How To Be Brave – I think it might still be my secret personal favourite (you can read my review again here) – but then along came The Mountain In My Shoe (you’ll find my review here), totally different, but with the same deft emotional touch, the deeply felt characters and finest of writing. And today I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Louise’s third published book, Maria in the Moon, published by Orenda Books for kindle on 15th August, with the paperback to follow on 30th September. Third published, but first written – you might like to read again Louise’s post here on Being Anne, published on the anniversary of the Hull floods, where she shared more about the book’s background.
A stunning, beautifully written dark drama by the critically acclaimed author of How To Be Brave and The Mountain in My Shoe.
Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges… and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…
I worried when I started Louise’s second book that I might not love it quite enough – but I most certainly did. I worried even more about this one – I read about the dark humour and the sharp-tongued heroine at its centre, and wondered if it was a book I could love. I’ll be honest, I was still a bit undecided a little way in – the language and edge of aggression made me feel a little uncomfortable – but I then realised I was over halfway through, I’d taken Catherine to my heart, and I actually cared about her very deeply.
The uncovering of painful memories is quite beautifully handled, the building of empathy for Catherine so subtly and cleverly done; as are the dynamics of family, the complexities of relationships both casual and deep, the acute observation of people’s interactions. The crisis line content was just superb – the behind the scenes interactions between the motley collection of people manning the phones, Catherine’s transformation into softness when dealing with people in need, the agony of needing to abide by the rules of interaction. Catherine’s journey of discovery is desperately moving and it hurts to read – but it’s wonderfully counter-pointed by dark humour and an occasional sense of the absurd.
The story – and its telling – has a stunning power and honesty, and no-one could ever read this book without being deeply emotionally affected. But then Catherine’s mother admonishes her for swearing – and in such a wonderful turn of phrase that you find yourself smiling again. My head told me I might not like this book – my heart told me that I loved it.
My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my advance reading hardcopy, and to Anne Cater for the organisation behind the tour.
About the author
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.