Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later. Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2019”
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…
Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys have begun a century apart, but are somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.
Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity, and art – Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.
How could I turn down the opportunity to read a book compared to Outlander and Birdsong? Ms. Taylor’s debut novel about time travel and true love in the midst of World War I and present-day is undoubtedly a love story for the ages.
When Louisa finds herself confined to a psychiatric hospital in 2019 against her will she is confused and discouraged that she will not find a way out of her dire circumstances. While sneaking out with her new friend Kerry to have a smoke, she comes across a door to another time which holds a wounded soldier named Robert from 1916. After falling in love, they are separated by misunderstandings and unfortunate events as Robert re-enters the war after his recovery, and Louisa is thrown into 1917 as another woman named Rose. Will she find Robert before it’s too late? Will their love stand the test of time?
The author’s descriptions of wartime events are remarkably realistic and well-researched. Robert’s experiences are tragic and so heartbreaking on the frontlines and the 1917 hospital conditions Louisa works under as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) are grim and brutal. In addition, the 2019 appalling conditions of the psychiatric hospital are distressing with an uncaring staff and a corrupt system.
Needless to say, I loved this book! Ms. Taylor’s writing is impeccable and vivid. The mental and physical struggles of the characters are real and I was breathless throughout wondering if Louisa and Robert would ever meet again.
This is a book that I highly recommend for readers of World War I historical fiction, and for those who enjoy time-travel love that spans time and place.
Thank you to Ms. Taylor for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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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.
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