Extracts

Beyond The Moon – Catherine Taylor

Today I am jumping on board the blog tour for Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor, and I am so happy to be able to share an extract from this historical fiction/time travel novel with you all. Many thanks to Catherine for allowing me to share this snippet, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

“Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later. Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2019”

In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly 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 hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, 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…

Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide – and become one desperate struggle to be together.

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story – and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art – Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time. 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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EXTRACT:

This extract takes place where Louisa is forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital, after the psychiatrist in the hospital where she was taken after her accident decided that her drunken cliff fall was most likely a suicide attempt.

Sussex, April 2017

It was dark when the taxi pulled up in front of an old Victorian brick building. A porter came out and led Louisa inside, past a nurses’ station entirely enclosed by dirty Perspex screens. Two nurses sat inside, a man and a woman, but neither looked up. The woman was reading a newspaper in an Eastern European language, while the man was engrossed in his mobile phone. A TV screen displayed black-and-white CCTV images of corridors and rooms.

Louisa was ushered into a small, stiflingly warm room with a high ceiling. It had one window, barred, set into the wall opposite the door. Two narrow single beds were positioned against either side wall, one made up, the other bare, its mattress stained. The only other furniture was a cheap-looking wardrobe-cum-chest-of-drawers unit with peeling veneer, that was screwed to the wall. There was no decoration; the walls were covered with dirty marks and sticky tape. On the floor was hospital linoleum. Ancient-looking pipework ran around the top of the room. Some was boxed off – presumably to deter anyone from hanging themselves from it – but half of the casing appeared to have gone missing. A strip light on the ceiling buzzed and bathed everything in a harsh light.

A nurse in a dark-blue uniform appeared at the door, chewing something, her navy cardigan covered in crumbs. Her bleached hair was a uniform shade of builder’s sand, but her eyes and eyebrows were dark, as were the several centimetres of roots which showed either side of her parting. She glowered at Louisa.

‘You’re early,’ she said. ‘We weren’t expecting you yet.’

‘I want to see a doctor,’ Louisa said, trying to sound more self-assured than she felt.

‘Tomorrow,’ said the nurse, who wasn’t wearing a name badge. She was broad and tall, with a hard face. ‘The doctor comes on a Thursday. This is your bed. The door locks from the inside but we can override it anytime, so don’t try anything. I need to search your things.’

‘I haven’t got any things.’

The nurse looked at Louisa as if she were stupid. The skin on the woman’s face was oddly loose, like melting ice cream. ‘What about your phone? Nail file? Scissors? You can’t have anything like that.’

‘Like I said, I haven’t got anything. I lost my handbag and I came here straight from the hospital.’

‘You’ll have to hand that in.’ The nurse pointed to Louisa’s neck.

‘What?’ She put up a hand defensively. ‘No. It’s my grandmother’s locket.’

‘You can’t keep it,’ said the nurse blankly.

‘But it doesn’t even open. Look!’ Earlier, in the taxi, Louisa had realised it must have got damaged in the fall.

‘Are you deaf?’ The nurse’s voice was laced with contempt. ‘Hand it over.

Louisa bridled. ‘You don’t have any reason to speak to me like that.’ Her eyes stung, but she was determined not to cry. She unfastened the necklace and put it into the nurse’s hand, which she held out in front of her like a teacher confiscating chewing gum. It was solid gold and her most prized possession; it had been passed down in her grandmother’s family for decades.

Glaring, the nurse dropped it into her pocket. ‘Take off your clothes and put these on.’ She gestured towards a small pile of clothes on the bed and waited, arms crossed.

‘Seriously? You’re going to stand there and watch me get undressed?’

The nurse made an expression of disdain. ‘I’ll be back.’ She let the door slam shut behind her, looked briefly back through the glass panel and walked away.

Louisa went to the window. This must be a dream, a nightmare she couldn’t wake up from. She needed to see grass, trees, sky – to remind herself that these things still existed, that she was still on the same earth she’d woken up on that morning. But she could only see the stars. Carefully, by poking her fingers through the metal bars and pulling the handle, she managed to open the window a crack. The fresh air smelt sweet. Not like the fetid, institutional smell of this place.

Oh Granny, can you see me? You’ve always taken care of me. You picked me up and took me in after Mum died, when no one else wanted me. Now I need you. I really need you, and you’re not here. There’s no one here for me at all.

Fear swelled in her throat. And she saw herself as a child, in their old house, standing before another window – the bay window in the room that used to be her mother’s bedroom, before it became her sickroom – crippled with the same anguish and disbelief, saying goodbye. The day her father had chosen Lucinda over her; when he’d driven Louisa down to the south coast and left her there with Granny.

Feeling almost light-headed with fear Louisa lay on the bed, with its thin foam mattress and insubstantial duvet, and made herself think back to the psychotherapy she’d had as a teenager, the skills for coping with stress and anxiety that her therapist had taught her: talking calmly to herself, breathing slowly and evenly, trying not to over-think things. With a supreme effort, she managed to force herself to be calmer. She must trust in the power of rationality and logic, she told herself. Soon enough they’d realise this was all a huge mistake and send her home.

The signposts along the way had revealed she was somewhere called Coldbrook Hall Hospital, in the forest to the west of Eastbourne. Not knowing quite what else to do with herself, she got back up again and changed into the hospital clothes – a t-shirt and pair of pyjama pants, a thin dressing gown without a cord, and cheap white hotel-style slippers. A comb, earplugs and a toothbrush were on the bed – but no toothpaste.

A door led into a tiny bathroom with a toilet and a basin whose taps were operated by sensors. The toilet had an integrated seat without a cover and the floor was an ugly mosaic of chipped tiles with stained grout. There was no window here, nor even a proper mirror, just a piece of polished steel fixed to the wall with bolts, one of which was missing. She couldn’t bear to look in it. No one had given her any dinner – not that she wanted any.

The nurse’s grim face appeared at the panel in the door once more. Without a word, she flipped a switch and everything went dark. Louisa felt her way back to the bed, got in and stared up into the blackness. Tomorrow she would speak to a doctor and make him or her see that she wasn’t in the least suicidal. Not only that, but she would demand to see a lawyer. She could explain it all. Everything would be all right.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Website

GIVEAWAY:

Win 5 x PB Copies of Beyond The Moon (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Make sure you head over to the other blogs taking part in the tour to find out more about Beyond The Moon.

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