Many can write. It takes a pure soul to build a story with a path to your heart.
My biggest thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for including me in this blog tour. This unbiased review is my humble participation and my thank you to the author, Louise Beech.
Title: Maria in the Moon
Author: Louise Beech
Publisher: Orenda Books
Date of publication: August 2017
Number of pages: 270
Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’
Thirty-one-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 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…
Sometimes you create walls around yourself. Especially when you are as oversensitive as I am. You stay on a clear and simple path, you avoid anything that could truly touch you. I can stomach serial killers and bloody hands, but try and poke me with life in its unpredictable coat and I’m retreating far far away. Then you meet people who do the contrary. People who put on paper what’s at the core of our bodies, minds, and feelings. And with their stories, they slowly and gently dismantle your wall. Why? Because you can’t understand the world if you don’t experience it in every way possible.
It takes a lot for me to step out of my comfort zone and read stories that I know will have an impact on me. Yes, sometimes I get surprised by a story. Usually, I don’t like that, and I resent the book for the unwanted smash in the wall. But picking a book with the knowledge you are about to dive into a pool of life, with its waves crashing on you, with your head fighting to stay above water… For that, I need to fully trust the author. I trust Louise Beech so much that I did not open Maria in the Moon with quivering fingers. I was determined, I was excited, I was ready to be overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed I was indeed. By what? Sadness, happiness, laughter, distress, understanding. The list goes on. I put my heart and head into Louise’s amazingly skilled hands and I was mesmerized by the beauty she once again delivered. Few authors can combine sarcasm, tears, perfect-one liners, awful truths and funny seconds, awkward moments and heart-wrenching minutes in perfect harmony.
‘Wrinkles love frowners,’ she often said, ‘but men don’t.’
Catherine is a fascinating character. A character you can’t forget once you’ve met her. Is it the way she thinks? Is it the way she acts? Is it the aura that seems to surround her? Is it the mystery that smothers her? It is everything she is, everything is she not, everything she has, everything she has not, everything she remembers, and everything she doesn’t remember. Catherine is a fish in a muddy puddle of water, fighting and living. Catherine is an inspiration, a flawed flooded character who has that warrior side to her she is not aware of. Catherine is a survivor of the Hull flooding, but she’s also a survivor of life. There are no complaints, there is no-self pity. Her thoughts speak to you, words that seem so simple and casual, sentences that reach the deepest parts of yourself. I am thankful I get to meet Catherine, I am grateful I got to hold her hand, walk by her side, and take this journey with her. I am humbled to have learned from her. I’ll cherish Catherine and all she stands for, forever.
Catherine protected herself by building a big tall wall. Except there are holes in it and memories are teasing her, right at the surface, close enough to scare her, too far to understand. Her journey is one of the most disturbing I have ever read. Yet, it fed me with dreams and hope and so much more. With the most grandiose sensibility, Louise Beech tells you about the raw, the ugly, the difficult, the things you don’t want to see, the aching you try to ignore. She makes you face it and grow. This is a story you live.
Maria in the Moon explores so much more than just a single life. It is the echo of Life, it is a anthem for what people stand for, what people endure, what people go through, and how they get on the other side. Wounds make you cringe when salty water drip on them, injuries heal, but do traumas do? What does it take to mend a mind as well as a body? Can we find the strength to even try?
This review holds many questions, little answers, and tell you little about what is hidden between the pages of Maria in the Moon. I do not possess the magical hands of the author, I cannot find the words to express how powerful this story is. Maria in the Moon is about hoping, loving, losing, finding. It is about being. Here and now.
Because some things refuse to be forgotten.
I would like to applaud Louise Beech for her amazing blend of the events in Hull with Catherine’s story. Like the tide coming in and then out, you are transported through what a population went through, not from an outsider’s point of you, but from the inside. From the cracking floors and wrecked homes. You get to feel the loss, of houses, families, lives. You get a taste of the feeling of belonging somewhere, the astounding need to help one another, the hole left by a day and the refusal of letting go. The fact every piece of this story fits together in a whirlwind of moments, good and bad, of days, rainy or shiny, makes you a part of this world.
I confess I did not know about the flooding in Hull, and when I started the book, I wondered how it would play a part in the book. But whatever my mind would think of, Louise Beech made sure to go over any expectation, over any idea I had. She magically took a terrible event, no, terrible events, and she made them sing to you. In the hands of anyone else, they might not have much to tell, but Louise turns and twists everything so that the most mundane thing becomes sharp and clever, hitting you right where it needs to. I let Maria in the Moon open doors in my heart, and I cried, I laughed, I ached, and I swore. Complex, gripping, and inevitable, this story is the reflection of a face in the water, beauty behind the flaws, pain behind the love.
I am writing this with a massive book hangover that won’t leave me. I don’t want it to. I want to stay there and keep Catherine with me. Maria in the Moon is lyrical, magical, beautifully painful and filled with hope. Maria in the Moon is emotions wrapped in paper, feelings trapped in the ink, life seen through the clearest eyes. Open the book and fall in love with a voice and a masterpiece.
Please, go check the other stops on this amazing tour and grab a copy of this book on the Orenda Books e-store or Amazon!
Louise Beech participated to the Orenda Month held on this blog back in March and shared 5 facts about her!
Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea, and 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. How To Be Brave is Louise’s first book. The Mountain in My Shoe will be published in 2016.
(from Orenda Books official website)
You can find her on twitter: @ or on her website.
Don’t hesitate to check her other stories, How to be Brave and The Mountain in my Shoe (click on the latest title for my review!)