Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Review : The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech

The Mountain in My Shoe copy

Published by : Orenda
30 September 2016 (paperback)
Copy : Paperback - Received from publisher for honest review

The Blurb

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.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

The Mountain in my Shoe is a wonderful story focussing on relationships.  The author looks at many different relationships, good and bad in family and friends, all done with great sensitivity. 

The two main characters we meet are (adult) Bernadette and (child) Conor.  A good portion of the story is narrated by Bernadette.  Bernadette is a women who at first seems content and thrives on being a dedicated home-maker, she recalls with nostalgia her early years with her husband, Richard, but this starts alarm bells for the reader, because we can see through her descriptions she is actually living in fear and her husband clearly has a compulsive need to control her.  We discover they have been unable to have children much to both their devastation.  When Bernadette finally decides to leave Richard he fails to come home from work.

It is interesting because apart from in past context, when Bernadette is recalling a memory or when she is sharing with her friend, Anne, we never get to see Bernadette and husband, Richard, in any scenes together which helped to create the growing isolation Bernadette is feeling.  In her search for meaningful relationships Bernadette finds herself as part of a volunteer programme in which she befriends a child in care - Conor.

I loved the character of Conor.  He is eternally optimistic despite his sad and unstructured childhood.  I liked the uncomplicated and childish narration that he presented.  When it is discovered Conor has failed to return from school, the reader is kept in the know about what is going on through Conor's version of events but kept in the dark enough that we are not told until the end if the two disappearances of Richard and Conor are linked. 

The combination of the two narrators keep the pace of the book moving along keenly.  Added to this we also get to read documents from Conor's lifebook, which gives a rich and varied account of Conor's history from various people who have been a part of his life, including his mother.  It was a unique way of building up a portrait of a character and I really enjoyed it.

The author makes good use of the surrounding to represent the characters too.  Bernadette lives in a cold, soul-less, unappealing home, she mentions this many times, and this it transpires is the life she has been living.

Although I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat with the thriller element, it kept me gripped and engaged enough.  It was the two beautifully developed characters that drew me in - I felt real warmth and affection for them. 

The Mountain in my Shoe receives :

Many thanks to Karen at Orenda for an advance copy of the book



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