Maria in the Moon is a poignant novel that left me bereft when I finished it.
Catherine Maria is a young woman who hasn’t had an easy life; her mother died when she was born and her father remarried a woman who was less than loving to her and didn’t nurture her in any way. But things changed when Catherine reached the tender age of 9. She knows that something happened but she can’t recall exactly what.
Now known as just Catherine, for reasons she can’t remember, and 31 years old she is working as a volunteer at the crisis centre following the floods in Hull. Her own home has been flooded and she sees volunteering as a way of filling her time and helping others with their problems, which is ironic as she can’t seem to solve her own.
While she’s working here her memories start to come back and she starts to lower her barriers as she bonds with her fellow volunteers at the crisis centre, in particular Christopher, who along with her close friend Fern, are there for Catherine when her long hidden memories start to return.
Her conversations with Stan, an elderly man who has suffered a stroke and finds speech difficult broke my heart. Refusing to leave his home and isolated as his neighbours have left because of the floods, he calls the crisis centre regularly asking for Catherine (or Katrina as he knows her) by name and the pair strike up a special bond, both becoming reliant on the other.
Maria in the Moon is one of the most beautifully written books I think I’ve ever read. I laughed with Catherine, but I also cried with and for her. She is the kind of character that you just want to put your arms around and tell them that everything is going to be ok. She’s flawed, but then isn’t everyone, but she’s also funny and she’s a loyal friend and I felt that she was mine right from the start of this book. It’s difficult to read in parts but it truly is a book to be savoured right down to the very last word and it’s one that I would highly recommend.
Louise Beech took me on a journey that will stay with me for a very long time and for that reason I will definitely be bumping her other books up my toppling TBR.
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With kind thanks to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for the review copy.