My 5* review:
I’ve heard a lot about Louise Beech, I have even met her at a book event when she was talking about this book when it was released. Her book, How To Be Brave, has been on my tbr pile for quite some time, but never quite made it to the top. I was determined to read one of her books and so, a little unsure about what to expect, I started to read The Mountain in my Shoe.
What I found was a truly wonderful story, it was a real treat. A book like this does not come along very often.
Bernadette is the main storyteller, she is a character who is stuck in a loveless marriage and is truly isolated from the world around her. We find her desperately searching for a book, what book it is we are not yet sure, but it is missing. Then her husband, who arrives home regular as clockwork at 6pm doesn’t come home and while Bernadette is waiting for him the phone rings and she is told that Conor is also missing.
Conor takes priority and Bernadette calls a taxi to take her to find him, the taxi driver clearly knows her and her routine well and is concerned by her out of character behaviour. The relationship between the two is unexpected and often made me smile.
We soon find out that Bernadette has not been sitting at home waiting for her husband as he thinks she is, instead she has volunteered to befriend a child in care and from that she met Conor, a little boy who she has grown to love in the five years that she has known him. The story of Conor is told by Bernadette, Conor and his foster carer Anne, but also by Conor’s lifebook, a book created by those involved with Conor and his care while he is a looked after child and it is this lifebook that is missing.
The unusual way of telling Conor’s story works incredibly well, different voices give different things to the story and gradually the sad story of Conor’s childhood, from why he was removed from his mother to his various foster families becomes known to the reader. It is beautifully revealed and I think that the reader can’t help but fall in love with little Conor, he is a truly wonderful character and so real that I am sure that he must exist somewhere.
The majority of the book takes place over the evening that Conor, the book and Bernadette’s husband all went missing. The reader pieces the story together as the book goes along, and while some of it was pretty obvious, I loved just about every moment of reading this book.
Apart from one rather large medical mistake, this book is pretty much faultless, Louise Beech is a fabulous storyteller with a real talent. I will definitely be reading How to be Brave soon.
A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself. On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she’s leaving, he doesn’t come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she’s befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor’s foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband’s secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all. Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family … and just how far we’re willing to go for the people we love