by Wendy Waters
Mary Granger is a supremely talented pianist who wants nothing more but to bring her music to the world but she is also incredibly damaged. Her fragility and introspection threaten to overshadow her musical gift so when she is offered a deal by the Angel Gabriel, she takes it without realizing the consequences will reverberate from the Bible and beyond…
Catch The Moon, Mary is a beautifully unusual book whose premise could have become all a bit YA and fantasy-fetched. But it doesn’t; instead, it takes the reader on a truly touching and thought-provoking journey that is breathtakingly well-written and immensely compelling to read.
The beginning of Catch The Moon, Mary is pure, almost lyrical poetry and wonderfully intriguing. However, within a page or two, there is a sudden twist which comes almost like a sharp intake of breath, and introduces a darkly awful adult theme which essentially underpins the novel.
It’s unflinching, yet sensitively handled and adds reason and strength to Mary’s decisions and those of her half-siblings, later in the story. It also adds a layer of understanding to her relationship with Gabriel which veers into some toxic territory as he sets her free only to keep her contained whilst battling his own demons, literally.
Even in the early stages, Mary demonstrates a quiet yet fierce determination which grows steadily as the novel progresses. She is complex, self-contained, and occasionally frustrating but her single-mindedness is infectious and she leaves a lasting impression.
As mentioned, the main thrust of the narrative could have become a little too frothy but Waters exercises restraint with Gabriel while managing to make him fully dimensional. A lot of consideration was taken in depicting Gabriel’s backstory and it shows, ensuring reader sympathy and engagement.
As Mary finds her level, their dynamic shifts. His vulnerabilities and introspection increase as Mary’s decrease, and although he can be petulant and destructive, he is also vividly beguiling and, therefore believable.
Catch The Moon, Mary is a very neat little novel but manages to cram a lot in. The tangents with Goodman & Co., Kathleen, and then Jonathan and Jennifer never felt superfluous and the scene between Jennifer and Robert in the garden towards the end was especially affecting.
Indeed, the book straddles a number of genres and does so successfully but the real star is the music. Waters’ writing brings the piano alive, not only when Mary is playing but woven throughout the text are notes, sounds, and melodies and I loved the framework of the chapters aligned to musical movements.
Waters’ prose is spellbinding; elegant and intricate but always accessible with some profound insights threaded through a clever and imaginative story that is absorbing, inspiring, and deeply poignant. Highly recommended.