Welcome to The Mountain in my Shoe blog tour!
About the book
Published: 23rd July 2016 (Orenda Books)
A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.
On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.
Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love.
Firstly we need to appreciate the fantastic title and the wonderfully fitting cover image – just stunning!
The Mountain in My Shoe opens with a message in a book, a lifebook starting in 2001. We then shift to Bernadette who is frantically trying to find this book which is usually hidden in plain sight on her bookcase, away from her husband, Richard who it turns out she keeps many secrets from. The reason for its importance in this moment is due to the fact that Bernadette is leaving her cold and controlling husband of 10 years.
Bernadette’s married life is a regimented routine dictated by Richard whereby she exists to serve him, to be his ‘stepford’ housewife at home dutifully looking after her husband needs so she has made the exceptionally brave decision to leave him. However, Richard throws a spanner in the works by not returning at home at 6pm sharp, the time he arrives home every single working day. Bernadette then learns that Conor, a boy that she is a volunteer friend for, has not returned to his foster mother, Anne’s home after school.
The Mountain in My Shoe is written through a combination of chapters told from Bernadette and Conor’s perspectives, as well as different voices through entries in Conor’s lifebook. It is both a psychological thriller given the mystery surrounding Conor’s disappearance and the impending conflict with Richard when he realises that Bernadette is leaving him as well as a poignant story of a little boy in the care system, being moved around through no fault of his own and the challenges that his own mother faces preventing him from living with her. At times, Conor’s back story is really hard to read, learning about his perceived rejection as he moves between foster homes and children’s homes, and learning of his mother’s other children.
The Mountain in My Shoe is beautifully written, weaving together both the back story and current narrative seamlessly and the entries in the lifebook was a beautiful touch to really bring Conor to life. I loved the characters in this book, Bernadette is a strong woman who has been stifled by Richard, Anne is the type of foster parent that you wished all children in care could have and Conor is a wonderful little boy who has gone through a lot but still is able to see the good in people and situations. I also loved Bob, Bernadette’s dutiful taxi driver who listens and looks out for Bernadette in the fleeting time that he spends with her every other week.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book and look forward to reading more from Louise Beech.
Thank you to Karen at Orenda Books for my copy of The Mountain in My Shoe.
About Louise Beech
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. 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. The Mountain in My Shoe was longlisted for the 2016 Not the Booker Prize.