Title: Beyond the Moon
Author: Catherine Taylor
Beyond the Moon is a novel with two narratives: one set in 1916 from 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett and one set in 2017 from Louisa Casson. The book begins by switching between the two as we discover that Robert is an artist who has hysterical blindness which was brought on through fighting in the war, while Louisa, has just lost her grandmother and her only family, and while drowning her sorrows, accidentally falls down a cliff and is subsequently sent to a psychiatric hospital as doctors fear she tried to take her own life. Set in the same location, Coldbrook Hall, over a century apart, when Louisa goes exploring in the abandoned wing of the hospital, she hears a voice and goes to find its cause. She is shocked to find a man lying on the floor, claiming he lost his sight in the Battle of the Somme, and his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…
What I loved about this book was its characters; Taylor did a great job of creating personas which fit perfectly in to their respective time periods, but also allowed it to look easy for Louisa to fit in to either. This book had a very “soul mate” feel to it, in that, it was as if Louisa and Robert’s souls were somehow connected and therefore drawn inexplicably to each other.
I liked that Louisa and Robert met quite early on so there was plenty of time to admire their connection, and then feel compelled enough to be hoping they ended up together – though having said that, I did not like that they had sex so early on, as Louisa is a protagonist who has had some horrible things happen to her of a sexual nature, it seemed quite out of character that she would jump into bed with Robert so quickly. Though I presume the author was trying to highlight their strong connection with each other.
I also appreciated how Taylor didn’t try to sugar-coat the horror of the war or the graphic description of, not only the fighting, but the visceral injuries they picked up along the way which really makes the reader remember what a terrible time in history it was. I do the perhaps the modern-day Coldbrook Hall was perhaps vilified a little too much, but I appreciate the sentiment Taylor was trying to achieve.
While I enjoyed most of this book, I do think it was a little lengthy and that, perhaps, the writing could not support the long story it became. There were definitely parts where I was confused, and I was just waiting for the ending in the hope that the author would reveal how all the time travel was possible so the plot made sense.
Overall, this was an original book which has clearly had a lot of thought put into it, and contained characters which were both compelling and realistic. There were definitely elements which needed refining, but I appreciated the sentiment of the story overall and thought that Taylor did a good job. With some practise, she could be author to be reckoned with…