Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe, was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon was compared to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and widely reviewed. All three books have been number one on Kindle, Audible and Kobo in USA/UK/AU. She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
Beautifully emotional writing expanded to fill my heart and soul as I sank into and explored this meaningful family drama. Heather steps outside of her comfort zone and begins to search for clues about the sister she hasn’t seen since their parents died when they were children. Before I talk about Nothing Else, can I just say that I absolute adore the way that Louise Beech writes. If you’ve not yet read her books, then step inside and discover a fabulous writer who understands what it is to be human. Louise Beech has the talent of being able to reach inside my mind and make me feel as though she’s writing especially for me. Nothing Else is just so wonderfully easy to read, and by that I refer to the reach of the words, I had the luxury of just letting the story loose, allowing it to slip past any defences to affect my emotions. A tension is created as a mystery is probed, loss and grief are considered as the past opens up. I have zero musical ability, yet found myself understanding the language of music. I don’t have siblings, yet ached with the heartbreak of loss that Heather was feeling. The words connect, haunt, influence. As I finished I felt a wash of feelings sing through my body, and that is the wonder of reading isn’t it! Perceptive, penetrating, and gorgeously emotional, Nothing Else declares just how powerful love, perseverance, and music can be.
A beautifully poignant, thought-provoking and special novel that really does travel to the heart of what it is to be human. 20 year old Sebastian knows exactly what he wants, his hormones are raging and he is desperate for sex however his autism limits his ability to meet girls. When Sebastian’s mother Veronica contacts escort Violetta, the lives of all three change forever. The novel focuses on the three main characters, each is vividly realised and I positively ached for and adored all three. Their individual stories weave through and under and around each other, the short chapters tying them together, creating one whole tale. Louise Beech often crosses genres in her novels, and has explored crime through to relationship stories. Her particular skill, on display in all of her novels, is allowing us to connect and sink in to what it means to be human, she takes us below the surface, below the obvious, and allows us to explore. My emotions sang throughout this novel, I balanced the exquisite tightrope that swings from the pages, stepped out, and fell in love with the words, the feelings they evoked. The title is absolutely perfect, and when I had finished, I just sat pondering its meaning. The Author’s Note at the end shows just how connected Louise is to this story, how she was inspired by her experience of autism as ‘an outsider’ and she also talks about #OwnVoices. This is How we are Human is bold and provocative, thoughtful and warmhearted, and I declare it is completely gorgeous!
Chock-a-block with chills, this supernatural thriller also beautifully evokes teenage feelings of uncertainty and how they travel with us into adulthood. Theatre usher Chloe witnesses the iconic musical Dust returning to the stage after 20 years, the very stage said to be haunted by the leading actress who was murdered in her dressing room. It feels as though this book, which crosses genres so successfully, could only have been written by Louise Beech. Her ability to delve into the deepest of emotions and describe them so they land with acute precision in your own thoughts, is handfasted with her knowledge of the theatre. The past collides with the present and boy does the tension increase with each time switch. I felt as though I was a teenager again, and with all the buckets full of feelings that Chloe has to manage, I could have gathered her into the hugest hug. While this is spooky as heck, it is also hugely considerate of emotional heartache and distress. Compelling, original, and unmistakably Louise Beech, I Am Dust glides onto my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
A beautifully powerful read that sits in darkness, not an all-consuming menacing murk, but one with pinpricks of light that can be found and felt if you open yourself to the discovery. Stella McKeever is working on her final radio show, she is encouraging listeners to divulge their secrets and waiting another call from a man who claims he knows who murdered the pregnant woman in the city three weeks previously, but should some secrets stay secret? There are times when I think it might be slightly distracting to label a book with one specific genre and for me this is one of them. I know Call Me Star Girl is a psychological thriller, it certainly does thrill, it also made me feel a whole host of other emotions too. Louise Beech excels in writing about people, at their very best, very worst, and everything in between, so I’d rather not pop this book into a pigeon hole but let it fly. Each chapter is headed by a name, and either ‘then’, ‘now’ or ‘with’. I quickly settled into the story while getting to know the characters, they became entirely real to me as I explored the how and why of who they were. While suspicion cut through my thoughts, unexpected slices of deep, aching surprise were served, and there is one particular moment that will stay with me for a very long time. Call Me Star Girl explored my feelings, touched my heart, and is one of my picks of the month, it is a truly glorious read.
An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I have not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Book of the Month A beautiful, and heart-achingly touching read, step outside of yourself, and into Catherine’s world. A world where a slice of Catherine has been missing since she was nine years old. Set after the devastating Hull floods in 2007, a crisis helpline sits at the centre of the story. Catherine was a bewitching, intriguing, puzzle. As her missing memories began to unfurl, the tale weaved through time, unsettling and thoroughly provoking my thoughts. My heart both cried and soared as I read, Louise Beech writes with quiet, subtle, painful beauty. Her ability to create hope in loss, to reach into darkness and find flashes of light is magical. Memorable, sorrowful, fascinating and yet full of love, Maria In the Moon has possessed my thoughts and taken up residence in my soul - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
An intriguing, moving, and absolutely captivating family drama. Bernadette has to face her fears and start to take back control of her life when she decides to leave her husband. However on the night she plans to tell him, the foster mum of a small vulnerable boy Bernadette has taken under her wing, urgently needs her help. Louise Beech uses a variety of methods to tell this story, each isolated yet linked, and perfectly placed. A book enters the tale, a book that offers information, an explanation, and is essential to the flow of the story. It’s the unexpected small offerings, that might at first seem insignificant, that really set this story on fire for me. As I was swept up, as the links started to weld together, as the story came to a vibrantly intense conclusion, I found goosebumps settling on my arms. ‘The Mountain in My Shoe’ is expressive yet subtle, heart-wrenching yet tender, and I found it to be an unexpectedly beautiful read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'It was an honour to publish Louise’s debut novel How To Be Brave, which was a Guardian Readers’ Pick for 2015 and included in ‘My Books of the Year’ on no fewer than 22 blogs. I think I vowed, about 20 percent of the way through reading that book for the first time, to publish whatever Louise wrote, and I haven’t changed my mind! Her writing is beautiful, her stories moving, heartbreaking and yet uplifting, her characters simply unforgettable. When I received the manuscript for The Mountain in My Shoe, I wondered if she could match her earlier success and capture me in the same way. Her debut was based on personal stories; this was something altogether different. Let’s just say that I laughed and cried reading her first draft, and was also chilled and completely drawn into an incredibly page-turning thriller. There were more than a few goose-bump moments! I realised that (perhaps by accident) she had written a psychological thriller, and it was as heart-wrenching as it was dark and twisty. I’ve never come across a writer like Louise, both as a reader and a publisher, and so many of her words, her images, her messages, her wonder stick in my mind. This is truly a book that you will never forget. You’ll be drawn into the lives of people whose lives aren’t working, be inspired, frightened, saddened and chilled, but you will, most of all, be a massive fan of this wonderful author. It’s outstanding.' ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A about this book.
All the stories died that morning ... until we found the one we'd always known. When nine-year-old Rose is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Natalie must use her imagination to keep her daughter alive. They begin dreaming about and seeing a man in a brown suit who feels hauntingly familiar, a man who has something for them. Through the magic of storytelling, Natalie and Rose are transported to the Atlantic Ocean in 1943, to a lifeboat, where an ancestor survived for fifty days before being rescued. A simply unforgettable debut that celebrates the power of words, the redemptive energy of a mother's love ... and what it really means to be brave.
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't. Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn't for the reasons he imagined. Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it? What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything? A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.