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…
Maria in the Moon is a beautiful book in so many different ways; plot, writing, characters, ambiance. The book follows Catherine Maria as she tries to recall what happened when she was nine years old, and why she can’t remember it. This book deals with some very dark and difficult topics that are treated with great empathy and understanding. Louise Beech has a beautiful and lyrical writing style that really engages the reader, drawing them into the story and capturing their attention. The plot is unique in its subject matter, the journey of a woman trying desperately to understand why she is the way she is and why she can’t remember her ninth year. It is a difficult and hard to read at times, full of raw emotion, but there is also quite a bit of humour bringing a nice balance to the book.
There is not a large cast of characters which I liked and found very fitting to this book. The characters themselves are varied, flawed and very realistic. The main character, Catherine, seems to be on a path of self destruction, she is very troubled and has problems with relationships. Her relationship with her mother is difficult, they rub each other up the wrong way and are hurtful to each other. Catherine wants a mothers love but there seems to be a barrier and they are both caustic in there comments to each other. She also has problems committing to a romantic relationships. She pushed her ex boyfriend away and instead opts for more casual relationships where she doesn’t use her real name. I feel that her work at the Flood Crisis Helpline is a metaphor for Catherine’s life, she is at a crisis point herself, there is a growing distance between her and her mother, she has broken up with her boyfriend, argues with her best friend, she is on a downward spiral. She has a flood of emotions that she can’t put her finger on and have come to the fore after she had to leave her home after the floods. It is in her relationship with Christopher that she starts to change, he is the catalyst that helps her remember her past, and start to move on.
A theme that runs through the book is the use of names; wether it is your real name or a made up name. For Catherine, it is the drop of the Maria that hurts her, she can’t remember why she was no longer a Catherine Maria and feels that she changed when she was known only as Catherine. At the crisis centre she is known as Katrina, and it is under that name that she has the confidence to start a relationship with Christopher. She has always used the term mother, rather than mum, for her mother, a more formal term that gives insight to their relationship. It is the same with her boyfriends; Billy she called Will, even though he didn’t like it, and although Christopher is called Chris by friends she prefers to use Christopher. In contrast she refers to her step-dad as dad, less formal and more endearing. Names are also used to annoy, Catherine doesn’t get on with her step-sister Celine and calls her Sharleen to annoy her. Her aunt Mary is referred to as aunt hairy, but not in a nasty way. Names can change who we are and how we are seen, all smoke and mirrors as are parts of Catherine’s life.
Maria in the Moon is a wonderful novel, it is poignant, heartfelt and utterly compelling. A real page turner, that will leave you with a book hangover, I highly recommend this book.