Today, it is my absolute pleasure to share my review for Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald for my stop on the paperback blog tour. My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the review copy and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join this tour.
Author : Helen Fitzgerald
Title : Ash Mountain
Pages : 220
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : August 20, 2020 (paperback)
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Fran hates Ash Mountain, 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 to her hometown 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 old 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.
| MY THOUGHTS |
Helen Fitzgerald combines one of the most devastating events in recent times with a healthy dash of humour in Ash Mountain. It seems like this combination shouldn’t work but it actually really does. Just like in her previous book, Helen Fitzgerald tackles an incredibly serious topic but she does it in such a way that it doesn’t leave you wanting to curl up into a tiny ball under your duvet, lamenting the current state of the world. Even if it at times I chuckled and immediately wondered if it was an appropriate moment to do so or not.
Fran is returning to her hometown of Ash Mountain. She thought she’d escaped this small town with its claustrophobic atmosphere and judgmental residents. But when her father has a stroke and needs care, Fran begrudgingly returns. Not only is she faced with childhood memories, there is also the taking care of her father and falling in love. All this during one of the most unbearably warm summers in Australia and devastation is just around the corner.
I’m sure many of us remember the horrible scenes from last Summer when Australia was ravaged by extremely fierce bush fires. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to step out of my front door and see nothing but a wall of fire and smoke but Helen Fitzgerald paints such a realistic, believable and harrowing picture that I almost felt like I was right there. Just take a look at that cover, which is an actual photo from a father taking a picture of his daughter watching the fire from their home. That photo and Helen Fitzgerald’s writing almost made me feel the heat, smell the smoke and sense just a tiny inkling of the panic that must course through people.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Fran is one of those characters I instantly warmed to. With a high dose of humour and snark, she had no problems getting me onside from the beginning. Every character in this story came across as highly realistic and believable, which makes some of the harrowing choices and circumstances they find themselves in every harder to read about. Because you know this won’t end well. Just like it didn’t in real life. The final chapters are immensely tough and distressing, leaving me feeling breathless and as if someone had punched me in the stomach.
Ash Mountain is raw, it’s sometimes brutal but it’s also extremely honest and a terrifying portrayal of a disastrous reality. But you know, it’s witty too at times 😉. Helen Fitzgerald is one of those authors who always takes you by surprise. You never quite know what’s in store when you pick up one of her books but you do know, you’ll be in for a treat and despite the tragic topic of Ash Mountain, this one too is a treat.
Ash Mountain is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published on August 20th.
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Helen FitzGerald is the second youngest of thirteen children. She grew up in the small town of Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, and studied English and History at the University of Melbourne. Via India and London, Helen came to Glasgow University where she completed a Diploma and Masters in Social Work.
She works part time as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow. She’s married to screenwriter Sergio Casci, and they have two children.