‘Like a cold spider, the memory stirred in my head and spun an icy web about my brain. Someone else crawled in.
Today I join Louise Beech on tour with her heartbreaking and emotional novel Maria in The Moon. Orenda Books is by now well known for their discovery of some amazing authors and Louise Beech is firmly placed in that group.
This is my first novel by Louise Beech but she has received incredible reviews for her previous two novels How to Be Brave and The Mountain in My Shoe so my expectations for Maria in the Moon were very high.
Described as ‘an examination of the nature of memory, of truth, and the defences we all build’, Maria in the Moon will steal your heart.
Please read on for my full thoughts….
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..
I knew nothing of the floods that invoked panic and fear among the residents of Hull in 2007. But for Louise Beech this event provided the perfect backdrop for her new novel Maria in The Moon.
Catherine Maria Hope is out of her home following the damage caused by the flooding. Her home was her sanctuary. It’s where she felt safe. Having lost her father at a very young age, Catherine invested her inheritance in a place she could call her own, a place where she could keep a tough shell wrapped around herself, to protect her from the world at large. With the temporary loss of this protection, she moves into a pokey flat above a Chinese takeaway with her one friend Fern. Fern and Catherine are the opposites of each other, with Fern’s flamboyant approach to life the antithesis to the life lived by Catherine. Yet they have a very strong bond, a special bond that Catherine cherishes close to her heart.
Catherine has always worked as a volunteer in crisis charity helplines and after the floods, she feels compelled to offer her services to the traumatised people of Hull. What Catherine doesn’t realise is that this time it will be different. This time something has changed.
Following the death of her mother, Catherine’s father remarried. Her stepmother never fully loved and accepted Catherine, but she was able to cope with this as she had her daddy and her Nanny Eve, both whom she loved dearly. But for Catherine, her life changed when at the age of eight her daddy died of a heart attack. Her stepmother, unable to deal with this, showed no real love to Catherine. She remarried, Nanny Eve passed away and Catherine changed. Her behaviour became quite surly and aggressive. She developed a very bad skin condition, where no relief from the burning itch was to be found. Her relationship with her step-sibling was fraught but her step-dad was a constant in her life, providing a little comfort in the world she now found herself inhabiting.
There is a strong religious reference to the Virgin Mary throughout the book, with the mention of a statue that was very special to Nanny Eve. Catherine used to look lingeringly at this statue but…
‘Pure Mary…but that was all we shared. She was perfect, whereas I was always in bother. I knew I’d accidentally smashed the Virgin Mary. Utterly unfixable. But there was something else; something I couldn’t remember…..Something that stopped all the singing in our house for a long time.’
Catherine has no memory of the year she turned nine. It’s as though it was wiped from her thoughts. Her family vaguely refer to that year in a distant fashion but Catherine is determined to find out the truth.
As she embarks on this voyage, Catherine is faced with many uncomfortable snippets of memory that just consistently seem beyond her reach. Her relationships suffer further as she is more determined than ever to question her family.
Maria In The Moon is a dark and disturbing read. The human body has the capacity to protect itself in many ways in order to survive and in this book, Louise Beech delves into this whole process as Catherine’s earlier years are slowly revealed to the reader. (*note some readers may find scenes upsetting*)
Maria in The Moon is a story of an innocence lost. It is a story of courage. It is a story of survival. Catherine Maria Hope is a tragic figure. Now in her thirties, she has battled all her life to move on, but there has been this unrelenting shadow permeating her every breathing hour. She will steal your heart as you wish for her to conquer the obstacles, to survive and to live the life she truly deserves.
Purchase Link ~ Maria In The Moon
About the Author: (Courtesy of Orenda Books)
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.
Her latest novel Maria in The Moon is OUT NOW
Twitter ~ @LouiseWriter
Website ~ https://louisebeech.co.uk/