**We were gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**
Today’s review is well over due as the lovely Catherine Taylor kindly gifted me a copy of her debut novel Beyond The Moon ages ago. It’s certainly not the case that I haven’t wanted to pick it up, but more that I have had lots of other reading to catch up on before I could reach for this stunning book. Thank you once again to Catherine for gifting me a copy of her book for review and many apologies it’s taken so long to post my thoughts.
About The Book
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.
A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.
Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
Louisa sacrificed everything, her medical studies and her own life, to care for her Grandmother in her final years, but now finds herself all alone in the world after losing the one person who loved her unconditionally. After the funeral Louisa climbs to the top of Beachy Head, one of their favourite places clutching a bottle of spirit her Grandmother had kept for decades. After a few drinks Louisa falls asleep, only waking when darkness had descended and storm is blowing in.
Unintentionally tumbling from the cliff’s edge and having been saved by a passer by she wakes in hospital lucky to be alive, but things go from bad to worse when she is forced against her will to be admitted to Coldbrook Hall, a chaotically run private psychiatric hospital. Unable to comprehend what has happened and finding herself with no control over her life, Louisa knows she need to find a way to make the doctors understand and to secure her release. That is until she meets Robert, a WW1 veteran laying injured in a derelict part of the hospital…..
Is Robert simply part of her ‘madness’? A way for her to escape the harsh reality of her loss? Or is her connection to him something that runs much deeper than she will ever know?
Firstly I have to say I could literally talk about this story for ages, but have had to restrict myself to the description above for fear of giving any spoilers. Beyond The Moon is a beautifully written complex mix of historical fiction, romance with an added touch of fantasy. Told using the dual perspectives of Robert and Louisa it takes you on a journey spanning a century, alternating between scenes during World War One and the present, 2017. Taylor uses a distinct writing style for each time period which really helped me as the reader adjust seamlessly with the frequent time slips.
What’s abundantly clear when reading this book is how thoroughly the sections from the war researched. Whilst at times a little gruesome in description, I truly felt I had been transported to the time and if I closed my eyes could easily be there in the trenches alongside the troops myself thanks to the highly descriptive narrative.
I had literally no idea where the story was going to take me as I read thanks to often insurmountable barriers being thrown in the way, not least the fact that the couple lived in different time periods. However, Taylor managed to successfully tie up everything so neatly in such a way that was both believable and realistic. The book itself is almost 500 pages long which initially seemed quite daunting, but the story was so gripping I found I couldn’t put it down and the pages just flew past in a blur!
I’ll openly admit I don’t read a lot of historical books, but this one has certainly made me think I should add more to my TBR list as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a unique, emotional and at times heartbreaking read filled with love, loss, passion and above all endurance. I struggle to believe is Catherine’s debut novel, as has all the depth and power I’d expect from a more seasoned novelist and I personally can’t wait to see what she writes next. Beyond The Moon is definitely one of my new favourites and I can’t wait to reread it already!
About The Author
Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.
Beyond The Moon is available to purchase from Amazon*