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Beyond The Moon

de Catherine Taylor

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"Beyond the Moon" is a whimsical and poignant love story that traverses time. It's a novel that evokes a myriad of feelings and questions about loss, honor, survival, depression, mental illness, identity, and war. This is a thought-provoking debut novel about medical student Louisa Casson and First Lieutenant Robert Lovett and a meet-cute that seems almost impossible to believe, but the idea of it will warm your heart. It's a love story that seems foolish to embark on seeing as they both exist in two different periods.

The title is charming and the romanticism of it was what sparked my attention. Next came the overall look of the cover. I have always been fascinated with the moon and the cover itself is like looking at art. There was something mysterious about the woman, a slight glimpse of the pain and longing in her eye as she looks down at the silhouette of a man sitting atop of a horse. I am ashamed to admit that I found myself judging a book by its cover. Everything about that cover and that title is hauntingly stunning. I started the book with high expectations. However, after having finished it in 5 days, I am left with mixed feelings about everything.

There were many times that I wanted to DNF this book. My main disappointment and reason for my wanting to let this book go were because of how snail pace the narrative was moving. From the very start, I felt this book was not for me. However, a logical part of me knew that the beginning was important and I was right. So, I continued with the hope that the emotional pacing will overshadow the narrative pacing. For this, I am pleased that I trusted my instinct because had I abandoned the book halfway through, I'd miss the most impactful part of the novel.

Overall, I liked the story. I've developed a fondness for Robert and Louisa as well as for Kerry, Louisa's friend, and a patient in the hospital. They are such memorable characters and I adore them. Robert for his sweetness and how he sees the world around him. For Louisa and her courage. For Kerry, because she has always been sane and just felt like someone I would have loved to have been friends with. While I have no way of knowing just how close to the truth the historical setting is exactly; I found it well detailed and fascinating. The timeslip paradox of the story did leave me feeling a bit confused. Then again, who can understand the concept of time travel anyway? This for me is a 3.5 out of 5. I am sorry to say it's not one that left me with that "one more chapter" feeling that I always look for in my books. Perhaps when I am more well-read into this genre, my opinions will change. It's an impressive debut novel and I highly recommend this to readers interested in the concept of time travel, historical fiction, and romance. ( )
  michathebibliophile | Jan 28, 2021 |
What a beautiful story! I admit that it took a while for me to really get into it at first. The early chapters dealing with Robert, the soldier, were a struggle to read. But Louisa’s chapters had me totally captivated.

If you enjoy time travel, I think you will enjoy this book. Louisa and Robert meet and fall in love. There is just one itty bitty problem. Louisa lives in 2017, while Robert lives in 1917. After a fall from a cliff, Louisa is admitted to a psychiatric hospital under the false assumption that she is suicidal. One day she wanders into an abandoned wing to the hospital and encounters a soldier returning from war injuries.

In addition to being a love story, it is also a story of war with POWs, battles, and graphic battlefield hospital scenes. Aspects of the story reminded me of the old TV show “Hogan’s Heroes”. (I loved that show.) There is also a cast of secondary characters that I really enjoyed, except for Nurse Enema who reminded me of Nurse Ratched from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

Well-written and complex, it kept me in suspense. How could they possibly get back to each other? Could love possibly be powerful enough to overcome their 100-year separation? I really enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more by this author. ( )
  BettyTaylor56 | Jul 15, 2020 |
Catherine Taylor’s literary debut, Beyond the Moon, comes crashing out of the gate with an exemplary story sure to knock your socks off! I haven’t read anything this fabulous in quite some time, and I read a lot. For me, I couldn’t read fast enough, couldn’t put it down. This novel is very complex, with a lot of side stories intermingling.

When we open the book to start at the beginning, we find a young woman named Louisa sitting upon English moors with a bottle of cognac. Louisa’s grandmother has just died and she is grieving and getting quite drunk to the point of falling asleep on the moor while a raging storm erodes the earth beneath her, plummeting her to the sea below. Rescued and confused, she wakes in an insane asylum not understanding why she is there. Officials think she tried to commit suicide by jumping off the cliff. They insist she has a history of this and keep her there against her will. As time goes by, she is befriended by other patients and is secretly shown an abandoned wing of the hospital that is over 100 years old. Exploring the gutted building one day, Louisa hears a man’s voice calling for help beyond a closed door that looks rather new. What Louisa finds as she opens that door shocks her. Here lies a man in a hospital bed, a blind man, with a WWI soldier’s uniform draped over a chair near the bed. Louisa’s first thought was “Am I really going insane after all? Why is this man here and who is he?”

From this point on, “Beyond the Moon” evolves into a marvelously woven tale of a woman who steps back into time as WWI France is exploding 100 years in the past. The time travel aspect of this story is not your usual sci-fi style time travel book. This book is first and foremost a war story. It is brutal, terrifying, and full of blood and guts, bravery and courage. You will read of many battles, POW camp escapades, and of edge of your seat action that will keep the pages turning fast. Yet it is also a tale of great love with two people confused, both thinking they are totally insane, not believing the other person is real, and only believing that they are a figment of each other’s imaginations. Their love is powerful. So deeply real that they will both experience deep yearning for each other, they will endure much loss, and both will experience great hardships as the story travels from one century to the other. These two star-crossed lovers are determined to find each other in the midst of the endless death and destruction that France undergoes during the Great War.

This will sound weird, but think of the movie Somewhere in Time with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. Add in a dollop of the old T.V. show Hogan’s Heroes, and then stir gently with the book and movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Yes, I know…how strange you say.

I can’t award enough stars or rave enough over this brilliant, expertly written novel. Check it out folks, it is very very Good! ( )
  vernefan | May 12, 2020 |
I love finding the occasional unconsidered trifle on Kindle! Catherine Taylor's debut novel was on offer and the blurb sounded intriguing, so I thought 'Why not?' And what a delight! I raced through nearly 500 pages in a day. The characters are so well sketched, and the author has clearly done her research into the harrowing conditions faced by soldiers and medical staff alike during the First World War, that I could willingly accept the sketchy time travel premise, which is sort of like Somewhere In Time meets Quantum Leap.

In 2017, former medical student Louisa Casson is mourning the death of her beloved grandmother on Beachy Head when she drunkenly slips over the edge of the cliff. Miraculously, she doesn't plummet to her death, but is rescued and taken to hospital. Unfortunately, previous episodes of anxiety and depression in her medical records make Louisa out to be a suicide risk, and she is all but sectioned and sent to a psychiatric hospital straight out of a horror story called Coldbrook Hall. While recuperating, and trying to convince the staff that she wasn't actually trying to kill herself, Louisa and another patient called Kerry break into an abandoned wing of the hospital which is slated for demolition. While exploring - which from Catherine Taylor's atmospheric description of the condemned building, I would do too! - Louisa goes to the aid of a man she hears calling for help, and discovers a soldier recuperating by himself in a perfectly intact and functional room. He's lost his sight, but was an artist and Louisa is entranced by his paintings - and the man himself. Robert Lovett seems to slightly confused, however - he claims to have been injured on the Somme, in 1916. Louisa goes along with his 'delusion' and promises to come back and visit him - but when she shows Kerry the same room, Robert has gone and the room is derelict like the rest of the wing. Although she has no idea what is happening, and wonders if she is actually having a breakdown after all, Louisa goes back to see Robert - only to find that she is no longer herself when she returns to 1916, but a woman named Rose Ashby who only he can talk to.

I absolutely loved the mystery of the first half of the story, not to mention the paranoia by proxy of being locked up for your own safety with no way of proving your sanity. Robert and Louisa's first meeting is pleasantly quirky, with only Louisa aware that one of them is in the wrong place and time, and their friendship flows so naturally into romance that I was equally anxious for her return trips to the deserted wing.

However, when Louisa falls through the floorboards in Robert's room and wakes up as Rose Ashby in France, 1917, on her way to work as a VAD in a field hospital at the front, and Robert's parallel story suddenly turns into The Great Escape, I will admit to losing interest slightly, despite the well-researched descriptions of life and death on the front line. Louisa and Robert are just stronger together, and I didn't really buy the Louisa/Rose transition, even with the parapsychological exposition (I do like the idea of 'soul families' being reincarnated together, though!)

I have many unanswered questions, but prefer that Catherine Taylor didn't try to explain everything that happens to Louisa and Robert. Overall, this is a delightful time travel romance, full of wonderful historical detail and likeable characters. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | May 10, 2020 |
Beyond the Moon will captivate you from the outset. The imagery is raw and powerful, and the emotions will encircle your heart. Robert and Louisa are dedicated to their respective paths in life, and when fate throws them together, become passionate about staying together. If you're a fan of Outlander (and I definitely am), you won't want to put this book down once you start. ( )
  LilyRoseShadowlyn | Mar 13, 2020 |
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