‘Like a cold spider, the memory stirred in my head and spun an icy web about my brain. Someone else crawled in. I remembered.’
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 devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a horrifying memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory, of truth, and of the defences we all build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…
I have long been a fan of Louise Beech and her writing, having previously read and reviewed How to be Brave and The Mountain in my Shoe. These two books both were on my favourite reads in their respective years and I did wonder what the author would be able to follow that up with, however worry ye not. Maria in the Moon is AMAZING! I hope my review can do it justice.
Catherine Hope is the main character, she is suffering some confusion and anxiety, she doesn't remember the year she was nine. The same year that her family stopped calling her Catherine-Maria. She doesn't know why her name changed and what happened to cause it. She has a somewhat difficult relationship with her Mother. Her life is in turmoil, having had her home flooded, she is displaced in all senses of the word. As a volunteer at Flood Crisis, she meets new people and slowly but surely she is able to tap into her memories and things that have long been forgotten.
Louise Beech writes with such elegance, the prose is graceful and at times sparse. The sparsity a reflection of Catherine's memories. A clutch of them here or there and sometimes a small breakthrough. The character of Catherine is brilliantly done, she is believable and relatable even though she is troubled. The periphery characters are warm and all add something unique individually.
What I find most amazing about Maria in the Moon and indeed all of this author's books is her natural empathy and ability to evoke emotion in the reader and to make them think. She has the ability to reach inside me to a place that touches me. Her stories are memorable, but the characters more so. They all have a story to tell and Louise gives them a voice.
I found this book something of an allegory, the tumultuous impact of the devastating floods matching up with the way that Catherine feels. The irony of her being called Katrina at the Flood Centre was not lost on me, named after the Hurricane. Everybody knows though that if you ride out the storm, you get to see the sun again.
This book portrays the power that memories can have, the good and the bad. Although quite dark in nature, there is always an underlying thread of hope. It is beautiful inside and out with a cover that is also apt. The author has a natural story-telling ability. This is the best I have read this year.
About the Author:
Louise Beech has been writing since she could physically hold a pen. 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 twice for the Bridport Prize. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was a number one bestseller on Kindle in the UK and Australia, and a Guardian Readers’ Pick in 2015. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.
You can find her on Twitter: @LouiseWriter
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