BEYOND THE MOON
BY CATHERINE TAYLOR
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
The Cameo Press Ltd
eBook & Paperback; 496 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel
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 2018/19
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 begun a century apart, but 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. An intelligent read, perfect for book clubs.
For fans of Diana Gabaldon, Amy Harmon, Beatriz Williams, Kate Quinn, Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Paullina Simons.
“A poignant and stirring love story… Taylor’s accomplished, genre-bending book succeeds as a WW1 historical novel and a beguiling, time travel romance… The sharply written narrative deftly moves back and forth between the past and present.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A time travel romance, yet so much more than that. It is also an unflinching portrait of the horrors of war, and a look at the torturous extremes a human soul can endure. It is a sonnet to the transformative power of love, even as it is also a criticism of the futility and pointless destructiveness of war.” — Shaylin Gandhi, author of By The Light of Embers
Louisa Casson is having a hard time dealing with the death of her grandmother, her only childhood caretaker, and finds herself on South Downs cliffs. A storm hits and Louisa falls down the cliffs, she is badly hurt and interned at Coldbrook Hall, a private psychiatric hospital believed to be a suicide risk. Louisa, who was a medical student before she took care of her grandmother struggles to fit in with the uncompassionate staff and irresponsible medical techniques. Some patients at Coldbrook help Louisa cope. One patient shows Louisa the abandoned sector of Coldbrook that served as a hospital during World War I, in this section Louisa finds a room that doesn't look abandoned- and it's not. Inside, she finds Lieutenant Robert Lovett suffering from shell shock and temporary blindness. Louisa finds that she has somehow traveled to 1916 through Robert's room; however Robert is the only one she can interact with. After another fall Louisa finds herself in 1917, now she is in France as a VAD nurse, Rose Ashby. While learning the ins and outs of her new life, she frantically tries searching for Robert again, and wondering which timeline she really belongs to.
Beyond the Moon is a sweeping time travel romance. Told through alternating views of Louisa and Robert, it seems like the pair might be doomed to be apart in time or space. From the beginning, Louisa's journey captivated me. Her passion and willingness to help others shone through. When Louisa first found Robert, I was worried that it would prolong her time in the psychiatric unit or make her believe that she really did need to be there. Robert's character is kind and confident. I loved the first few times that Louisa and Robert were able to be together in 1916, even though no one else was able to see or interact with Louisa, their friendship and romance was able to progress naturally. Once Louisa falls into 1917 again, the story picks up pace. I enjoyed seeing Louisa, now living as Rose Ashby, adapt to life 100 years prior and take on the responsibilities of a VAD nurse. Here, the historical aspects of the story also come to life as the conditions of the field hospital and the patients they received are described in realistic and historically accurate detail. Robert's experience on the front and as a Prisoner of War was also absorbing, the scenes in the trenches and on the front lines brought the grittiness of the war to light. Even though Louisa and Robert are both firmly in 1917, it seemed they might still be kept apart, the suspense of them finding one another again kept me rapt right until the end. I thought the method of time travel and the explanation for Louisa slipping through time was fascinating as well.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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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