Outlander meets Birdsong in this haunting literary timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War with a young woman living in modern-day England a century later.
*A debut novel shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2018/19
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. An intelligent, captivating read, perfect for book clubs.
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.
For fans of Diana Gabaldon, Amy Harmon, Beatriz Williams, Kate Quinn, Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley and Paullina Simons.
*NB This novel contains graphic descriptions of war violence and injuries, as well as profanity and mild sex.
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The Wickedcoolflight Crew
**Cait Sidhe’s Review of Beyond the Moon**
Beyond the Moon is an interesting time travel romance. It’s unique in that it’s more like a time overlap (the author calls it a timeslip) than true time travel, at least at first. Our heroine first meets Lieutenant Robert Lovett in an abandoned section of the psychiatric hospital that she accidentally finds herself involuntarily admitted to in 2017. Except when she enters his room, she finds herself back in 1917, going back and forth between the two time periods. It’s only after falling through the floor of the abandoned wing, that she picks up as Rose, a VAD nurse at a British field hospital in France. Lt. Lovett is sent back to his unit in France to continue fighting and eventually is captured and beomes a German POW.
This story is a difficult one to read sometimes. Not only of the conditions of the mental hospital but of the war and its injuries on the battlefront. Frequently jumping back and forth from Robert’s POV in the trenches and German POW camp to Louisa/Rose’s, you certainly get a feel for the times. While in some books the dual POV can take away from the story, I enjoyed it here, especially as the characters spent so little time together. The author has a wonderful voice and while I’m no expert, it appears that she must have done her research in order to write details the way she did.
As far as the comparison to Outlander goes, these are very different tales. Having read all the published books for the Outlander series, the relationship between the two main characters is more established. Unfortunately, Louisa and Robert spend more time separately than together. If you are looking for a historical read, then this one is for you. If you are looking for a replacement for your Outlander fix, you’d be better served elsewhere. While the soul mate/meant to be vibe is clear, the strength of this novel lies in its ability to tell the story of the era.
I would recommend Beyond the Moon to readers of historical fiction that won’t mind the romance on the side. Bodice ripper readers will be bored with the lack of action between these two as it’s a fairly clean romance. Those that appreciate reading of the trials of war and don’t mind explanations of graphic war wounds and surgeries will enjoy Beyond the Moon.
I give Beyond the Moon 3.5 of 5 propellers.
About the Author
I was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.
My mother was a professional landscape artist, who spent her life painting the beautiful beaches and countryside of Guernsey. And so I grew up in an environment where it was a very normal thing to want to make a living from your art. Which is just as well, because I’m someone who always knew she wanted to be a writer, and if I’d had parents who’d harboured hopes of me becoming a tax accountant or a corporate lawyer, they’d have been sorely disappointed.
I’ve been obsessed with words and books since the day I first learned to read, and grew up on classic children’s authors like Enid Blyton and Edith Nesbit. As I got older I began to gravitate towards love stories with gripping plots, devouring novels like Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Katharine, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice, about clever, independent-minded women caught up in passionate affairs with complex, Byronic men. And equally I loved sweeping epics like The Thorn Birds and Gone With The Wind. I have always been a hopeless romantic, and my favourite novels are beautiful, intelligent love stories that combine a gripping plot with gorgeous prose and wonderful historical detail to lose yourself in.
I was also a keen writer myself from an early age, penning copious stories and poems – as well as plays to be performed in the field behind our house, with parts for me and my younger brother and sister, but always with myself in the starring role (of course!).
My love of language developed into an interest in foreign languages, and I went on to study French and German at university, then to live and study in Germany for several years after that. Most recently I worked as a journalist.
Throughout my time at university I studied 1900-1945 European history and culture – a period that continues to fascinate me. I always knew that when I eventually wrote my first novel it would be a novel of historical fiction set during the first half of the twentieth century. And that it would be first and foremost a love story.
Mental health is a subject that has always hugely interested me, and from the very start I knew that Beyond The Moon would be set partly in a psychiatric hospital. As I began to research people’s experiences in mental hospitals I was shocked to find just how common it is for patients to suffer neglect and abuse in such places. I can understand that modern-day Coldbrook Hall might seem far-fetched to some readers, but I assure you, you don’t have to look far on the internet to find some appalling stories. Just recently the following articles appeared in UK newspapers: ‘Firms cash in on psychiatric care crisis’ in The Times, and ‘Care Quality Commission [the UK regulator] places two Priory Group hospitals in special measures’ in The Guardian. If I, in my very small way through Beyond The Moon, can help shine a light on this modern-day scandal, then I am very glad.
I hope you enjoy Beyond The Moon as much as I loved writing it. I love to hear from readers, so please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, on my contact details page, you can sign up for my mailing list and receive occasional (I don’t have the time for anything more frequent!) news about Beyond The Moon and future novels.
My Instagram is @catherine_taylor_author
I’m currently working on a second novel set in 1900s Vienna, when the “imperial city” – as it was known – was at the heart of the enormous, cosmopolitan Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s another smart historical love story, and I’m very excited about it.
I now live in London with my husband and children – and two very cheeky and active chinchillas.