“Bernadette realises there is a difference between being alone and loneliness: the former you choose; the latter you feel when you’re not happy inside.”
I’ve considered Louise Beech to be one of my absolute favorite authors ever since I first read one of her books, and I’ve been saving this final backlist title for a special occasion… And what better occasion than to read it as a birthday treat to myself?! I already knew I was going to love my time with The Mountain In My Shoe, and it most definitely turned out to be yet another story that blew me away. Speechless, book hangover, unable to put a proper sentence on paper… Oh yes, the Beech effect has struck again!
The Mountain In My Shoe is without doubt another emotional and simply stunning story. It focuses on the care system, unhappy homes and marital problems, but also gives us a note of hope and the possibility of a brighter future. The story uses a multiple POV structure, where we switch between Bernadette and Conor in the present and get glimpses of the past with the help of Conor’s Lifebook entries. The Lifebook entries offer us a variety of different progress reports as well as letters to Conor written by a number of different persons, and they ended up adding a little something extra to the story. They helped understanding both the care system and Conor’s past and difficult life so far, and it was also a great help in getting to know the people present in his life a little better.
The character development is once again sublime. My heart went out to both Bernadette and Conor from the very beginning, and this instant connection made it impossible to stop reading. I literally read until the early hours as I simply HAD to know how everything would end! Conor’s story is such a tragic one, but as I said before, little beacons of hope appear along the way, and you cannot help but crossing your fingers and toes everything will work out for him in the end. Bernadette is a very interesting character too and you cannot help but wonder about her relationship with Richard and what happened behind closed doors… Her growth and development throughout the story was wonderful to see.
I love how the disappearance of both Connor, Bernadette’s husband Richard and Connor’s Lifebook are woven into the plot and end up connecting. While I did guess this connection early on, somehow I didn’t mind at all as I was too busy devouring page after page of outstanding writing. The mystery around Richard’s secrets as well as what happened to the book added a level of suspense to the story, and the same goes for Conor’s disappearance of course (although less as we get to see how things evolve in his POV). The final developments were definitely highly emotional and it definitely made me glad I had some leftover birthday cake to cheer me up… Oh yes, The Mountain In My Shoe is definitely one of those books where tissues, cake and chocolate might be needed before you reach that final page.
In a way I’m sad that this was my final backlist title and will now have to wait until her newest title This Is How We Are Human is published… But I’m also glad I finally got to read this extraordinary story and meet both Bernadette and Conor. Without doubt one of my highlights so far this year!