Review: Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor

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☆☆➹⁀☆3 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

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…

*Longlisted for the 2019 Exeter Novel Prize
**Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Love Story Prize 2019
***Contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.

Bookbub | Goodreads

 

My Thoughts:

A strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War in 1916 with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later, in this haunting literary time travel novel.”

When Louisa’s bender is mistaken for a suicide attempt, she finds herself in Coldbrook Hall Psychiatric Hospital.  In the once military hospital, there is an unused and seemingly forgotten hall.  It is in this hall that there seems to be a time slip that allows Louisa to venture back to 1917 and meeting Lt. Robert Lovett, a solider recovering from WWI wounds.  It is this premise that leads the author and reviewers suggest the story to fans of Susanna Kearsley.

The story is told in dual time periods.  Readers learn of the ravages of WWI in 1916 and the deplorable conditions and treatment of patients at of Coldbrook Hospital in 2017.  The author’s research is evident in the careful details she includes throughout her debut novel.  The gritty war scenes are at times gory and gruesome.  While I appreciated the obvious research and detail, I found the plot occasionally got bogged down in that detail at times.   Additionally, the modern-day hospital conditions seemed dated, but not having spent time in a psychiatric ward, I was able to let go of my presumptions and enjoy Ms. Taylor’s story.

For lovers of time-travel or historical fantasy (i.e., Outlander), Beyond the Moon will be a gripping read.  The characters are well developed the plot has a layered complexity, and the transitions between time periods were smooth.  Overall, I would say that Beyond the Moon is well-written, and a great read for avid WWI fans.

 

About the Author: Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.  At university, she studied 1900-1945 European history and culture. With her keen interest in early 20th century history and mental health, she knew her novel would be at least partially set in a psychiatric hospital.  Find the author on Instagram: @catherine_taylor_author

 

 

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