Maria in the Moon - Louise Beech
My Review - 5 Stars
My goodness, this book. I don't want to say too much about it because it is best experienced as the plot unfolds. I was gobsmacked by the pacing and how the author built the story. The writing was just phenomenal.
I loved how Beech explored the idea of identity and the role names play. Catherine has the habit of giving people other names and likes taking on a new name when she starts volunteering at Flood Crisis. The names become a persona for her but she doesn't scratch too deeply beneath the surface as to why.
This book might not be for everyone. Catherine does not remember the year she was 9 and if you know anything about childhood memory loss, you will have a good idea about what happened to cause her to blot out an entire year. The author handles this with compassion. It is not graphic nor gratuitous. So if you do not have this particular trauma in your past, I would encourage you to give it a try.
"The flood, the stroke, the cough, the loneliness, they were all incidental. It was never about those things. Never about the trees. Callers often talked of symptoms but they needed to discuss the cause, and that was never so obvious." p. 167
In addition to exploring identity, Beech plays around with memory, what we do and don't recall, the way we keep each other's memories. This was fascinating to me and I loved how we got pieces of what Catherine remembered from her childhood, as well as when her house was flooded, until it culminates in our understanding.
There was an aspect of the ending that was a little too neat for my taste but I can't deny it was effective either. I'm still turning it over in my mind and thinking about how Beech brought us to that resolution and turned everything on its head. I definitely want to read more from this author!
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...
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Disclosure: I received an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.