A Mountain in My Shoe was published by Orenda Books on 30th September 2016 and is available to buy here
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.
Hello and welcome to my turn on the Mountain in My Shoe blog tour! I am so delighted to have discovered this gem of a book.
I discovered Louise Beech via her beautiful debut novel, How to Be Brave. It is a joy to see where her writing has taken her now. Her new book is The Mountain in My Shoe, with its unusual and stunning focus on relationships and the care system in England.
The story follows a young woman, who is unhappily married and works as a volunteer befriender. Befrienders are unpaid volunteers, who provide continuity for looked after children and other children in need. Looked after children is the term given to children in the care system, in England and Wales. In this case, Conor is a young boy who has been matched with Bernadette, to give him continuity and a friendly long term relationship. Conor has been in the care system his whole life, maintaining a shaky link with his birth parent. We get to know and care for Bernadette, as we follow her thoughts and see genuine concern for Conor.
One day, Bernadette gets the courage to leave her bossy control-freak husband. It is also the day he goes missing. Coincidentally, the now ten year old child she has befriended as a volunteer, is taken from school. Soon everyone is alerted and hunting for him. What on earth has happened to Conor and who would take him? Why would Bernadette’s husband vanish on the day she has chosen to leave him?
Anyone who is slightly familiar with befriending schemes will instantly recognize the boundaried relationship between Conor and Bernadette. Louise Beech has done some excellent research and describes this beautifully. We see how Bernadette has built up a positive caring relationship with Conor and this has only enhanced his life.
Although this is a psychological thriller with a mystery at its heart, I felt that it was very much more than that. Its strength lay in the relationships, how they rippled, interconnected and unfolded. I could very much believe in Bernadette, her husband, Conor’s foster mother and Conor.
Conor came across as a remarkable boy, whose path through life had been constrained by the care system. He has a birth mother, who could not parent him and lives with a foster carer. He is trying his best to fit in, with his peers. As a baby, his ‘Lifebook’ was started by significant figures in his life. This was written by his social workers and carers, year by year. This insight into his early and developing years will be presented to him as an adult, to give him a sense of identity. Louise Beech gives us access to Conor’s Lifebook to truly understand him.
This is an incredible story, which tugged at my heart and made me fall in love with Conor. The writing is intense and moving. We see some pretty heart breaking events unfolding, from the insight into an unhappy marriage to the past history of a vulnerable little boy. I loved. I cared. I wept. Do NOT miss out on this book. A Mountain in My Shoe is a class act! Highly recommended.
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