Maria in the Moon is my favourite Louise Beech book yet. My primary concern for an enjoyable read is the believability of the characters. Story, although important, comes second to the author’s ability to immerse me in the truth of the world they’ve created.
Catherine-Maria, the book’s main character, is so tangible. She’s grumpy and difficult and all the more loveable for her evident faults and often unreasonable behaviour. She encompasses all those embarrassing times you’ve stormed out of a room and snapped the things you never meant to say during an argument. When all she really wanted to say was how lost and alone she felt. Her relationship with her mother (who isn’t her real mum) is painful and constricted and she suffers from amnesia of part of her childhood.
Every time I read one of Louise’s books I learn something. How To Be Brave taught me about Type-1 diabetes and what it must be like to be adrift on a raft in the ocean. The Mountain in my Shoe taught me about the intricacies of the Care System. Maria in the Moon brings vividly to life the aftermath of the 2007 Hull floods and how they continued to affect the lives of victims long after the waters had receded.
Catherine feels compelled to work the phone lines in a Crisis Centre for those affected by the floods. Catherine finds it impossible to talk about her own night-terrors and the reasons she feels dissociated from everyone around her, yet she longs to listen to the problems and difficulties of others. Perhaps it makes her feel that little bit more real.
Although she’s as close as she can allow herself to be to her flatmate, Fern, it’s Christopher, a fellow-worker at the Flood Crisis call centre who finally gets through to Catherine and helps her recover the awful memory that’s been blocking her emotional progress since she was nine.
I would recommend Maria in the Moon to any reader who loves a novel with emotional depth, strongly-drawn characters and exquisite writing.
The Blurb: 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-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. 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…
About the author: Louise Beech has always been haunted by the sea. 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 was also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show for three years.