Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor

Published June 25th 2019 by The Cameo Press Ltd

Synopsis: “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 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.

4 Stars: 

Having never read or watched Outlander, I was not sure what to expect from this book. I do enjoy a good time-slip story, so requested to read this one and participate in the blog tour. I am glad I did.

This was a very enjoyable book. It was a bit of a fantasy with the time-slip aspect, a bit of a romance, historical fiction and an eye opener about treatment of patients with mental health by contracted providers all rolled into one. Louisa Casson has had a lot happen in her life, none of which she was responsible for, except for the drunken night on the cliffs that resulted in her hospitalization. She was a woman who felt deeply for those she cared about, and that was what caused many of her problems. I really liked her character. As she travels in time, she struggles, but she is tough and does not give up. Robert is amazing. He is willing to give up everything for his men and when he falls for Louisa, he falls hard. I do not want to give away any of the story so will stop there.

The dual timeline of 2017 and 1916/1917 is seamlessly written. The two stories blended very well together. I will warn you that the first few chapters had me wondering how this story fit together, but once it did, I zoomed through it, so don’t give up if you feel the same way. I don’t remember reading any stories dealing with WWI, so this one had me cringing during the medical descriptions and the battles. It was terrible to read about and the author must have done a lot of research to get this right. The other storyline involves the psychiatric hospital that Louisa is admitted to. It was not a government hospital, but one that was privately owned and contracted by the government to provide treatment to patients with mental health issues. The conditions were deplorable, the hospital was understaffed, the patients were treated terribly, very little actual therapy was carried out, and all to just make a buck. I was so sad for anyone who is hospitalized under those conditions. The romance storyline was sweet and made up for some of the other realistic things in the story that were not pleasant to read about. I loved the ending and enjoyed this book overall. I definitely recommend this one to those who enjoy dual timelines, historical fiction and romance. There is a lot to like about this story. I will watch for more from this author. I received a copy of this book from Rachel’s Random Resources upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Purchase Links: Amazon USAmazon UK

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 is 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 she’s very excited about it. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.

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