Mountains of the Moon by I.J. Kay
Jonathan Cape (hardback), 2012
BLURB FROM THE COVER
A woman in her thirties is released from prison, with a new name and not much else. She begins to make a fresh start but the present is soon invaded by fragments from her past.
Unsettling, hallucinatory and without precedent, Mountains of the Moon is the tragic account of a broken life, but, against all expectation, it amounts to something utterly beautiful.
THREE KEYS: ONE for the main entrance; one for the letterbox on the wall outside and one for my brown front door, which comes complete with fist holes and crowbar dents around the lock. You wouldn’t think it, looking from outside. The building is an old vicarage, tall and imposing in a horseshoe shape with a gravel car park at the front. Sideways on to the street; it overlooks a park. Well, a railed bit of grass with mature trees; it belonged to the vicarage once. There’s a bench and a slide and probably a bird if you wait long enough. It’s used mostly by dog owners and heroin addicts, who don’t mind the dog shit or the discarded needles. I’ve never understood the bond between people and drugs, people and dogs, always wanted a real friend myself.
I really enjoyed Mountains of the Moon. The story jumps about a bit as we find out about the narrator present experience as she adjusts to life outside prison contrasted with flashbacks to different periods of her life from childhood until her incarceration. This made the structure of Mountains of the Moon a little disjoined but worked really well for me. I didn’t have any issues following the time shifts. The narrator uses different dialect at different ages so I knew where I was all the time. I loved the use of a first person narrator in Mountains of the Moon. I’m a fan of this type of narration. When it works really well it takes you right inside a character’s head, emotions and psyche. Kay offers this with Mountains of the Moon. I really like the character. The narrator is a very complex person. She has different names and identities because of various traumatic things that have happened to her. I felt a real connection with her. I’ve never read a novel that dealt with someone on parole from prison before so I found this aspect of Mountains of the Moon really interesting. Mountains of the Moon is very well written, descriptive and engaging. Mountains of the Moon is split into acts and even has a cast list sort of like a play which is found quite fun and unusual. Mountains of the Moon could have been a depressing misery memoir. There is enough violence, abuse and neglect to fill a few volumes. Mountains of the Moon never stoops to this level and instead is a thoughtful, thought-provoking novel about one woman’s survival. I thought Mountains of the Moon was really interesting and enjoyable. I look forward to Kay’s next offering.