Published: 30th September 2017 (Orenda Books)
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…
After reading Louise Beech’s last book, The Mountain in My Shoe, which was one of my top reads of 2016 I had high expectations for Maria in the Moon……and of course, this completely exceeded all of those!
Beech’s writing is exquisite, she has such a beautiful way with her prose which draws you in from the very start and makes you experience all the emotions alongside the characters through to the end.
Maria In The Moon is set in the late 2000’s with the backdrop of the terrible floods in Hull whereby Catherine has temporarily lost her home. Catherine is living with her good friend in a one-bedroom flat so is sleeping on the sofa – although sleeping is a generous term as she has very disturbed sleep patterns and odd dreams. When she was a little girl, Catherine was actually Catherine-Maria but there is a year that she has lost from her memory and is also when she changed to just Catherine. Try as she may, she cannot remember this year of her life.
Catherine starts volunteering for Flood Crisis and meets the lovely Christopher who is to be her buddy in the early days whilst she settles into the support they offer the wider community over the phone. Maria In The Moon shares the devastation that Hull experienced in 2007 which is told with such empathy and authenticity – the floods are as much as a character as Catherine, Christopher et al.
What is absolutely brilliant about this book is the mystery of Catherine and her missing year – we learn about Catherine at the same time as she does. This isn’t someone trying to run away or hide from their past, this is a young woman trying to put back the pieces of her missing year.
This book certainly pulls on the heartstrings; the people who call into crisis lines just so they have someone to talk too to abate their loneliness, or at the other end of the spectrum, so there is someone there whilst they have their last moments on Earth are just heartbreaking. But there are also some lighthearted moments which make you warm to the characters even more.
I adored Catherine, she is a mixture of cynicism as well as a desire to help others in her own way through the crisis lines. Catherine is so real, what you see is what you get, that makes her instantly likeable, she is very real and down-to-earth….albeit, at times, frustrating with her train of thoughts but we are all very guilty of that 🙂
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and towards the end I was conflicted between wanting to know what happens and the disappointment that the book was nearly over. This is a beautiful read combining aspects of family drama, romance and mystery that will make you both empathise and laugh with the characters.
Another stunning read from Louise Beech – top marks, I absolutely adored Maria In The Moon.
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.