Today I am joining the blog tour for the brilliant Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald. Many thanks to Helen, Orenda Books, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.
Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.
She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.
As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…
Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…
From reading the blurb, I had assumed that Ash Mountain would be a family saga type novel, with secrets being revealed, rifts being healed, and the bushfire providing a little bit of background drama to it all. I was right in part, but my goodness was I wrong about the fire. It is almost a character in its own right as it advances on the town, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Ash Mountain flits back and forth between the day of the fire, the days leading to the fire, and events thirty years previously, as we get to know Fran and her dysfunctional family. Everything about their stories and experiences feels very raw as they come to terms with their new lives, and, for Fran at least, the memories that returning to Ash Mountain stirs up. This human story on its own would be enough to keep me gripped by this book, as Helen creates a community of strong, relatable characters.
Like many other people, I watched the news of the recent bushfires in Australia, and I thought I had an understanding of what it was like over there, but this book brings the reality to life in ways that no news story did. Helen Fitzgerald captures the raw terror caused by an unstoppable, deadly fire in a way that caused an almost visceral reaction in me. It was painful to read about the utter destruction of lives, homes, wildlife, as the fire rips through the area.
In Ash Mountain, Helen Fitzgerald captures something that would previously have been unimaginable for people who haven’t lived through it and makes it real. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Her 2019 dark comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in both The Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband.
Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information about the book.