I haven’t really figured out all of the rules about this series. Do you have to have written a certain number of books? Do I have to have read them all? Do you even have to be an author? Hopefully it will all become clear over time, although maybe as the rules do form I might start breaking them. Whatever the ultimate shape of the series, I’m fairly sure that if every time you write a book you leave me in tears you deserve a place, so here’s my love letter to Louise Beech.
Louise writes about wounds, or at least that’s how she leaves me wiping away tears on a bus load of commuters time after time. Her stories are about people and the way that we manage to both hurt and heal each other. There is a great deal of pain in her writing but alongside it there is always hope. These are not the glossy happy endings of some Hollywood blockbuster though, her characters don’t just get up and walk away all smiles and happy ever after. When wounds heal they leave profound scars that shape us more deeply than superficial happiness.
When I read The Mountain in my Shoe this theme particularly moved me. I don’t think that wounds are something we handle well in Western Society. In my own reflection on this topic I have found Richard Rohr helpful as he talks about how we either transform our pain or we transmit it. It is a difficult message, because of course our pain hurts, and difficult messages don’t generally go down well in our culture, but we have to learn collectively to work through our pain and as a result turn it into healing for ourselves and others.
I believe that Louise’s novels can help us with this process because she shows through her writing that she understands that journey. As she put it when I asked her some questions whilst reading The Lion Tamer Who Lost “Writing is healing for me. It soothes and comforts me to write. I find my own healing there”. She admits that her own experience in childhood and early adulthood gives her an empathy for difficult and painful subjects and I would speculate from reading her novels that she has managed to move into the sphere of the Wounded Healer, that Rohr describes in his own work.
It is a difficult space to operate in, because there is a temptation when someone is hurting to offer comforting platitudes that might feel like empathy but are in reality belittling. Healing is not about diminishing pain, or even understanding it, but holding it and transforming it. We see this with so many of Louise’s characters as they move through the negativity and bitterness of wounds inflicted upon them, to the liminal space in which the mystery of grace lifts us to a broader, shared plane.
As a result a Louise Beech novel is a gift to yourself and potentially, if you connect with it fully, all the people in your life. I’m a great believer in the power of stories, they shape us individually and as a society. So, although it might seem a little flippant to say that by sharing the stories of the characters in a novel we can learn to share our own stories with each other and change lives, I do believe it. That is the power and responsibility of a writer, to tell good stories that help us to become better, and Louise does exactly that.
Body of Work
How to be Brave – Poignant, beautifully written and tenderly told, How To Be Brave weaves together the contemporary story of a mother battling to save her child’s life with an extraordinary true account of bravery and a fight for survival in the Second World War.
The Mountain in my Shoe – 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
Maria in the Moon – Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost – A dark and poignant drama, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a mesmerisingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart.
Call Me Star Girl – A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly.
I Am Dust – Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything. And Chloe has been watching…
What Others Say?
Louise’s work always finds that deepest darkness corner of your soul you show no one. Not even yourself. But you walk away feeling you’re not alone.
Mrs Loves to Read (@Patriciasbooks)
She’s the Queen of Bloody Sheba. Nobody I know in writing more deserves the ongoing success she’s having.
David F Ross (@dfr10)
Louise Beech is such as extraordinary author. She doesn’t just write a book, she gives each book a heart, a heart that gives life to her stories and characters.
When I finished I Am Dust I was in awe. I was speechless and I had to sit back and take a few minutes to reflect on what I had just read and the profound journey that I had just been taken on. I cannot rate or recommend this book highly enough and I know that whatever words I now find won’t do the book justice.