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"It's not love unless it hurts".

Maria in the Moon - Louise Beech

This was all set to be a 3 star read for me, until about the last third, when it rewarded my perseverance with an excellent ending. Until that, I had enjoyed the relationships between the volunteers in the crisis line office, but was not really inspired by the characters ringing in for help nor the interactions between Catherine's family members.

The book is set immediately after the floods that inundated Hull in 2007, and Catherine is staying with her friend Fern while her house dries and the necessary repairs are made. She has helped on Crisis lines before and volunteers to provide support on Flood Crisis, a phone line set up to help those devastated by the floods. Between answering the phone to flood victims, she battles with her own demons and her inability to form any lasting relationships. For some reason she can't recall any of her ninth year and this weighs on her mind between phone calls and Sunday lunches with her 'mother' (her deceased father's wife).

I'd never thought much about crisis lines and this book was a bit of an eye-opener on the subject - rules prevent the volunteers from getting too close to callers and they are not permitted to give advice, just to listen and encourage. it is Flood Crisis that draws this novel together into a cohesive whole, and prompts the inevitable ending that we can feel the book drawing towards. Although it is fairly evident why Catherine is struggling, the reveal was well handled and had me turning the pages with increased speed.