A stunning, beautifully written dark drama by the critically acclaimed author of How To Be Braveand 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…
What does TWG think?
Huge thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to be part of Louise Beech’s blog tour for her new release, Maria in the Moon!
Reading a book that everyone has been raving about on social media, can sometimes be quite difficult because as a reader, it’s only natural to be extremely hopeful that the book will live up to the hype. As I hadn’t yet read any of Louise Beech’s previous novels, I began reading ‘Maria in the Moon’ with the hype in mind, as opposed to any personal expectations of the novel. I had no idea what the authors writing style would be like or anything. All I was aware of was how many people ended up being full of emotion after reading ‘Maria in the Moon’, and as I was afraid of being the only one to dislike the book, I started reading it with oodles amount of pressure. Not reallllyyyyy the best way to start a new book, I’ll be honest. But, seeing as I write my reviews from the heart; I need to be honest.
Set around the time of the real life Hull floods, Maria in the Moon’s storyline focuses on the devastation aftermath of the flood, including a raw insight into how lives were affected during that time. Catherine-Maria Hope lost her home due to the flood. She knew how it felt to see everything you’ve worked hard for, washed away in the blink of an eye. There’s one thing starting again materialistically, but there’s another thing trying to heal your emotional wounds because of it.
Personally, it took me an awfully long time to get into the storyline and gel with it. I couldn’t seem to find a connection with the main character; Catherine, yet she came across as such an emotionally charged character. Why wasn’t I connecting with the characters level of emotion? The more I found myself WANTING to gel with the book, the further I became from actually doing that. Frustrated? Extremely. Was I going to give up? Was I heck. This is exactly what happens when you put too much pressure on yourself to listen to other people’s views, before you’ve had chance to work out your own.
After putting the book down for a while and reading another book; I tried to rid my mind of said pressure whilst also trying to make sure that I re-started the book with more of an open mind. Once I stopped forcing myself to click with the storyline, the easier it became to read. It happened naturally. Whilst I had to admit defeat with several parts of the storyline, the real highlight of the book for me was Catherine-Maria and the emotional treasures that the storyline contained. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the overall storyline at all; it just didn’t flick my switch as much as the main character and the emotional values did. Learning about Catherine’s past made me crumble. I could see how her influential her past had been as she grew up, yet I could also see how guarded she had become because of it. It was as though she HAD to go through life protecting every inch of her mind and soul, in fear of becoming attached to something (or someone) that she might end up losing once again. I found that quite heart-wrenching if I’m honest.
The way that author, Louise Beech, engages her readers with her words, is exceptional. It was though each and every word was laced with magic. The kind of magic you have to open your heart to. The kind of magic you have to allow in, before you’re able to believe it. The way in which the author brought the Hull floods to the forefront of my mind was dark yet eye-opening. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what those people went through, yet thanks to ‘Maria in the Moon’, I had more of an insight due to the authors descriptive writing and the addition of the ‘Flood Crisis’ parts of the storyline.
I honestly described how much I struggled with the book at the beginning of this review, but what did I feel about the book overall? Well, let’s just say that I’m still trying to repair my ice queen exterior after Louise Beech made a severe dent in it, allowing moisture to escape. Did I gel with the overall storyline? No, I did not. Did I need to? Honestly, no, I don’t think that I did. Did I gel with the characters? YES! Yes, I did and, in my eyes, having such a strong, ballsy main character such as Catherine, is enough to carry the storyline without feeling as though you’re missing out on anything. I’m not saying I didn’t love the way in which the author wrote the overall storyline, because I did, it’s clear that the lady has an incredible talent – just to make that clear! ‘Maria in the Moon’ for me, wasn’t tear inducing emotional. It was emotional in the sense where you end up emotionally exhausted, heart-broken, powerless; all without shedding a tear. There has only ever been one other book which has emotionally destroyed me in this way before, but now I can safely say that it is now two books that have done this. In my eyes, being emotionally destroyed by a book in the way I described above, is far more heart-wrenching than tears. With tears you know that they will eventually dry up. Without tears, it’s harder (in a phenomenal way) as you have to wait for your mind to fix itself, and your heart to piece itself back together.
Raw, poignant and beautifully delivered, Maria in the Moon will emotionally destroy you in a way that you never thought possible. Allow yourself to feel the storyline. Allow yourself time to digest the emotion. ‘Maria in the Moon’ deserves patience and love, just like Catherine-Maria.
Thanks Orenda Books.