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…
Hi peeps! And welcome to another audiobook review! If you read my previous reviews of Louise Beech’s novels (Call Me Star Girl, How To Be Brave & The Lion Tamer Who Lost) you’ll know that I’m partial to Louise Beech’s writing. Hell, even if you read my dual review of the Sam Shephard series by Vanda Symon, you’ll know that I’m partial to Louise Beech’s writing! Consequently you may think I’m not completely unbiased. But you would be wrong! Such a degree of fondness entails sky-high expectations, expectations I dare say that would make a lesser author stagger and a lesser novel crumble. But did you count those little yellow hearts? Louise Beech doesn’t falter, and neither does Maria in the Moon.
Maria in the Moon is the story of Catherine at the time of the big flood in Hull in 2007. Catherine is feisty, she’s tough, she’s one hell of a protagonist. On the one hand, Catherine is a good Samaritan: she worked as a volunteer before and at the start of the novel, she’s signing up to work shifts manning the flood line. So part of Catherine’s story consists of the stories of victims of the flood and other people in need. On the other hand, she’s a troubled young woman. Her mum died when giving birth to her, her dad died when she was 8, and so she was left in the care of her stepmother, with whom she has a strained relationship at best. Obviously her upbringing has had its effects on her and then there are some strange things about Catherine. She keeps having nightmares, there’s something about the word “tiger”, it keeps popping up in her head and it makes her feel funny, she has a fascination with bunnies but no clue where it came from and she has zero recollection of the year she was nine. It did my head in, it did! I wanted to speed up the narration just to find out sooner, but I didn’t because I wanted to savour the story. That’s not to say I didn’t have a theory. I did, but only concerning the what and the when (obviously), but the who and the why eluded me. And oh how I hoped I got the wrong end of the stick, I hoped from the bottom of my heart, if I was religious I’d have prayed my theory was wrong. It wasn’t. Once again, Louise Beech made me cry. Once again she broke my heart, but what an exquisite torture it was. Once again, Louise Beech has proven that you needn’t write a thriller to write a thrilling, addictive, suspenseful story.
The narrator of the audiobook is Colleen Prendergast, whom you might know from Mel Sherratt’s Hush Hush, Gillian McAllister’s Everything but the Truth or Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands. Colleen did a great job with this narration, she has a lovely (Hull I presume) accent and she tweaked her voice to accommodate all the characters. I especially admire what she did with Sid, a flood line caller who’s had a stroke, and has difficulty speaking. Colleen voiced him kind of woolly, thick and slow, yet understandable and not at all annoying, brilliant! The downside of listening to this instead of reading it? All the crying happened in my car on the way to work… Like I told Twitter: thank heavens I don’t commute to work by public transport! Although I did have to stop to refuel the car and I got some funny looks from a guy who probably thought I was going through a personal crisis… Cheered me right up 😂
Highly recommended! But beware: keep your tissues close (I keep telling Karen that Louise’s books should come with a complimentary box of tissues, but does she listen?!) and if you care what people might think, choose your reading moments carefully!