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Maria In The Moon Paperback – 30 Sep 2017
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"A stirring novel, beautifully written." -- Irish Times
"Catherine has a gap in her memory. It's a mystery until she loses her home in a flood and a horrifying memory emerges." -- The Daily Express
"This is not a book to be rushed, but rather one to be savoured. Each word is important... Louise Beech has such a lovely way with words. It's hard to describe how beautifully she puts across her characters' thoughts, fears and feelings. Her writing is insightful." --Nudge Magazine
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. 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.
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Apart from when she’s working at the call centre for people affected by the devastating flood in Hull. There we see her defences melt away and the kind, sensitive and patient side emerges when she talks to her callers and develops relationships with them.
However something starts to trigger her memories and we follow her painful path to recover them, refusing to give up until she has all the missing pieces of her puzzle in order to fully understand so she can start to begin to heal.
This is a story about how our minds are able to numb out and file our painful and traumatic memories away for years in order to survive. How they get pushed and forgotten from all consciousness until we are ready to face them.
It is not always an easy read but Louise Beech covers this complex and painful journey of discovery with such honesty that it resonated with me on a personal level too.
This beautifully written book shot an arrow straight into my heart and I know it will stay with me for a long time.
I've adored and shouted from the rooftops about the first two books by Louise Beech and have to admit that I was nervous to read this book, fearing that it could never live up to it's predecessors. I had no need to worry - the writing is beautiful as is only to be expected from this author and the characters are complex, human, flawed and fabulously drawn. The story is intriguing, past and present are superbly woven and the authors handling of Catherine unlocking her childhood and the fallout of her discovery was for me, spellbinding.
It's not always comfortable reading, you won't always agree with Maria's thoughts and actions but I can guarantee that you will remember her and the reasons for her self-destruct approach to relationships and in the end you WILL love her and be rooting for her to find happiness.
This is a book which will stay with me long after reading the last glorious word.... If you only buy one book this year make it this one!! I only wish I could give this more than 5 stars!
It is hard to say much about the story itself without giving away key elements of the plot. The blurb does tell you all you need to know. Catherine is just about to start volunteering at a Flood Crisis call centre and it is at her interview that we join her story. A carer by day, volunteering is something she has always felt the urge to do, no matter the emotional toll it seems to take on her. She has elements of memory black outs, in particular parts of her childhood that she simply cannot remember, and yet other parts of her life, particularly her beloved grandmother and father, the memories are as clear as day.
The story follows Catherine from that very first meeting, to her first unofficial call taken at the centre; to the friendships she forms amongst her colleagues and the emotional journey she goes on with her callers. But nothing can prepare her, or the readers, for what is to come. And it is as the long buried memories of her past slowly start to emerge from the shadowy recesses of her mind, that the story takes its darkest turn.
There is a feeling of inevitability in the things Catherine discovers about her past but this makes them no less disturbing when they are uncovered. Louise Beech takes no liberties with what is a truly moving and disturbing story, not playing anything for shock value, taking the reader just to the verge of truly uncomfortable without pushing too far and yet still making the story alarmingly, painfully, clear. She has captured the gradual erosion of the wall which has been holding Catherine’s memories at bay just perfectly. You can feel the emotion seeping from the page, acknowledge Catherine’s highs and lows, and, as the story unfurls, begin to understand more the strained relationship she has with her family.
I think one of the most powerful parts of this book is the sense of helplessness that is captured in Catherine as she takes the calls on the helpline. You know she wishes she could do so much more, often struggling between training and empathy in helping the caller find their way. Often she is faced with despair; with stories so sad it allows her to forget her own worries for a while. It is not all sob stories; there is the essence of Ms Beech’s humour in there too as the volunteers take calls from not only the lonely but also the perverse who call the centre as it’s cheaper than the premium sex line numbers. Having worked in a late night call centre, this really made me smile. I recognise many of the characters depicted here, although thankfully never had to deal with any of the latter…
But there is one caller, Stan, who really breaks the heart. Alone in his apartment, his neighbours and friends driven out by the floods, and having suffered from a stroke, his link to Catherine, or Katrina as he knows her, is everything to him. Catherine comes to rely upon him too, understanding the sense of loss within him, the loneliness. And yet in each call she takes, she is sending herself down a darker path. Recurring dreams or nightmare, triggered each time she had worked as a volunteer; emotions which impact upon her ability to bond with others. Feelings which stop her from taking tentative steps with co-worker Christopher, even though the chemistry between them is clear.
And here Ms Beech has pulled a blinder. I can’t say more other than what she has done is most beautifully executed. The gradual unveiling of each truth; the confessions of Catherine and those around her. The absolute surety of the writing which leads us to the most heart-breaking and shocking scene of all… It is hard to articulate how I felt reading that chapter, and readers of the book will know which one. Can you, or should you, feel an empathy from someone so vile, so wrong, no matter the fate that befalls them? Well… this is the power of this book, because, in spite of myself and, in a large part, because of all that had come before it, my emotions and my senses were divided. Ms Beech – you are a little tinker. A bloody skilful one but a still a tinker.
Dark, compelling and overwhelming moving. What a book!
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It resonated a lot with me as I was a flood victim of 2007, although the flood was the background of...Read more