Sunday, July 31, 2011

Down From Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams

Down From Cascom Mountain is the emotional first novel by Ann Joslin Williams, set in the same fictional area surrounding Cascom Mountain that mirrors her own hometown and where her father, Thomas Williams, once set his own stories. Although I have not read anything by Thomas Williams, it is clear his daughter inherited the literary talent of her National Book Award winning father. In Down From Cascom Mountain, newlywed Mary Hall has just moved to the rural New Hampshire town with her husband, back into the house where her parents- both now dead- once lived. However, not long after they begin to settle in, her husband takes a fatal fall of a cliff, leaving Mary lost in her grief. As Mary deals with her grief, feeling completely alone in the world, she has memories of what it was like growing up and finds herself connecting with teenagers Callie and Tobin, as well as the new fire watchman, Ben. Each of these people have their own kind of brokenness to deal with, but maybe together they can help each other navigate their way home.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Down From Cascom Mountain, as the novel has an extremely gloomy premise, but as soon as I began reading it I was hooked. Although depressing, the story is beautifully told in a way that is subtle yet incredibly powerful. Williams' writing is lyrical and romantic, and she is perfectly able to capture both the folly of youth and the passion and lost of a more mature love. Each of the characters is emotionally complex and faced with their own kind of struggles, but they are connected by the mountain on which they live, a mountain which through Williams' skill develops into a rich character of its own. This is a story about guilt and self-blame, and each character has their own burden and kind of loss to overcome.

Although the novel does have a bit of a plot, in particular Callie's storyline has a few twists involved, it is not what keeps you turning the page. The story itself is interesting, but this is definitely a book where it is the writing that makes it so wonderful, and although this is Williams' first novel she already has a collection of linked short stories, The Woman in the Woods, that I am eager to pick up next. From the first haunting page you will find yourself immersed in Down From Cascom Mountain, an incredible novel from Ann Joslin Williams filled with characters that are truly human, flawed and troubled, bound together by their pain, yet sustained by the kind of broken hope that is far from fictional.

Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Pages: 336
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This review was a part of TLC Book Tours. Click here to read what other tour hosts thought. For the purpose of this review I was provided with a copy of the book which did not require a positive review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

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