I find it hard to resist a time travel book and Beyond the Moon piqued my interest even further as it is partly set in WWI, a period of time I’m getting more and more interested in reading about. This is, however, primarily a love story.
Our hero and heroine are Robert and Louisa. There’s nothing simple about their love story though as Robert lives in 1916 and Louisa in 2017, just over a century apart. Robert is a 1st Lieutenant fighting in France during the First World War. He’s convalescing at Coldbrook Hall when he meets Louisa. She is there because she is a patient at Coldbrook, placed there because it is believed she tried to kill herself. She meets Robert one day when she stumbles into an unused wing and also stumbles into 1916.
It’s not time travel in the strictest sense, it’s more of a falling through the years, and I really enjoyed the cleverly woven tale. The love story is beautifully executed as our protagonists deal with not only their own problems but the issue of how to make a very unusual long distance relationship work.
What particularly stands out for me about this book are the descriptions of life for the fighting soldiers. The author has clearly got a passion for the era and has researched extensively to be able to portray so intensely the hell of the trenches. Many times I winced as I read of injuries and the conditions that the soldiers had to deal with. It’s done sympathetically though and if it’s gruesome at times then that’s because it’s clearly based on fact.
Beyond the Moon has been described as Outlander meets Birdsong and I can’t think of a more accurate description and yet it has its own uniqueness. It’s quite a gritty story at times. Not only do we have Robert as a soldier but Louisa eventually finds herself in France herself, as a VAD at a hospital. With a desire to be a doctor she’s not completely out of place but learning to deal with such problems as how to light a fire, how to make invalid custard (who knew that was a thing?!), are not what she had in mind.
It’s a fascinating read, both in terms of the detail and the well-plotted storyline. I did feel that maybe the ending felt a tad rushed after the sweeping elements of the story as a whole, but I certainly closed the book with a sense of satisfaction and pleasure that I had read it.
Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 4/4
Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor
The Cameo Press Ltd 9781916093218 pbk Jun 2019