Mountains of the Moon: A Novel

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Overview

After a ten-year stint in a London prison, Louise Alder has a new name, a cold room, and a past full of secrets. Her story takes us back to a shattered childhood world, a runaway’s odyssey of love and madness, and ultimately to a legendary mountain range in central Africa. In Mountains of the Moon, I. J. Kay has crafted a haunting, hallucinatory, and suspenseful tale of the ultimate triumph of language and imagination, of witnessing and forgiveness. This richly imagined debut novel has garnered comparisons to the...

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Mountains of the Moon

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Overview

After a ten-year stint in a London prison, Louise Alder has a new name, a cold room, and a past full of secrets. Her story takes us back to a shattered childhood world, a runaway’s odyssey of love and madness, and ultimately to a legendary mountain range in central Africa. In Mountains of the Moon, I. J. Kay has crafted a haunting, hallucinatory, and suspenseful tale of the ultimate triumph of language and imagination, of witnessing and forgiveness. This richly imagined debut novel has garnered comparisons to the swift pacing of mystery master Stieg Larsson and the dazzling literary styles of Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Kay's first novel follows the tragic life of Lulu, a character whose name changes with the circumstances of her existence. The story begins with Lulu's release from prison after a decade of internment. Despite her history, Lulu approaches one dire situation after the next with a trusting, almost guileless outlook. Those who can empathize with Kay's damaged character will applaud her journey to the Mountains of the Moon in central Africa and her lifelong battle to rise above her past. The reader should be aware that Kay's narrative often shifts without warning between past and present, creating a storyline that can be difficult to follow. VERDICT This is a challenging novel. The flashbacks and staccato sentence structure contribute to a chaotic tone. However, the book will appeal to readers drawn to unconventional works.—Catherine Tingelstad, Pitt Community Coll. Lib., Greenville, NC
Kirkus Reviews
Cruel parenting, violence and rootlessness fail to sap a young woman's spirit of survival in a striking debut. Imagination can blossom in the grimmest environment is one lesson of Kay's appealing, often painful first novel, which captures the creative language and irrepressible spirit of Lulu King, an English child whose horribly abusive, neglectful home life deprives her of education, money, freedom and family. In spite of all this, Lulu has a full fantasy life in which she's a Masai Mara warrior living in a treehouse above the African grasslands. Lulu's perilous childhood is intercut with the story of Louise/Catherine/Beverley/Kim, the woman with many names who, after 10 years in prison, is trying to rebuild her life. The cataclysmic events that bridge these two existences emerge slowly as Kay dodges back and forth in time and style, sometimes phonetic, sometimes poetic, challenging the reader to keep up. Lulu grows up on the run, scavenging, meeting kind or thoughtless folk, working a range of jobs in various towns, living in substandard housing, sometimes suicidal. But a sudden windfall frees her to achieve her dream of visiting Africa, where she will find more threats but also friends and a kind of release. A wild, sometimes disorienting but impressively crafted novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123453
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 527,175
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

I. J. Kay has lived in West Africa and the United Kingdom, where she currently travels the waterways by houseboat. She holds an MA in creative writing. This is her first novel.

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