Review: Beyond the Moon
*Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize
"A poignant and stirring love story... Taylor's accomplished, genre-bending book succeeds as a 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 haunting and beautiful debut novel about love, the Great War, time travel – and choosing the impossible
In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded in the First World War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems 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 stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying in an old iron-framed bed in the dark, 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…
As the days go by Louisa is increasingly drawn back to the curious room and its enigmatic occupant - and things become stranger and stranger, to the extent that she begins to wonder if she in fact belongs in a psychiatric hospital more than anyone. Meanwhile Robert also finds himself increasingly entranced by the fascinating girl he cannot see, but who’s become the light in his darkness.
Dark clouds are gathering, however. Difficult questions are stacking up, and meanwhile Louisa is keeping an explosive secret. Then the truth comes out. And to save her future with Robert, Louisa must somehow find a way back to the past. A past where the dangers of WW1 threaten to engulf them both.
Perfect for fans of Diana Gabaldon, Amy Harmon, Kristin Hannah, Kate Morton, Susanna Kearsley, Paullina Simons, Ken Follett and Barbara Erskine.
Time travel romances have a special place in my heart.
In 2017, Louisa was committed to a mental institution after doctors believed she tried to take her own life, despite her insistence that she didn't. During her time in the institute, she unknowingly comes across a portal to 1917 and is transported to the bedside of wounded and temporarily-blind Lieutenant Robert Lovett. She becomes a muse for him, not only to regain his strength and sight but to overcome the darkness of shell shock/PTSD. They quickly fall in love but have to overcome not only a 100-year time gap but the Great War to get their happily ever after.
I thought this novel was thoroughly researched, with descriptive and vivid details about WW1, the daily chaos and struggles the people in 1916/17 lived through and the brutal physical, emotional and mental effects it had on soldiers in battle and the nurses who took care of them.
Although the book was well-written with easy-to-follow time jumps and realistic war descriptions, I didn't connect with Louisa or Robert. I felt that their relationship was rushed with all the makings of an "instalove" and I was immediately put off. It wasn't believable or moving in the slightest. There was also too much going on, with too many plot points taking us in different directions. Honestly, their relationship took up maybe 20% of this book, with the rest being focused Robert's time in the war and Louisa's time in the asylum in 2017. I would've loved more of a slow-burn build-up between them, with a little bit less war.
I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.