#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2020
Today I am sharing my top three reads of 2020. My second #bookvent choice of the day is one that is poignant for its timeliness and authenticity as well as the raw emotion of the story itself. They say a picture paints a thousand words and the cover of this book really sums up the ferocity and intensity of what you will read between its pages. When natural disaster draws out a dark and long held town secret, you can expect everything from thrills to laughter, to tears. With a story that both Mandie and I sum up with the simple sentiment, ‘poor Ronnie Corbett’, my second day twenty-four pick is …
Ash Mountain by Helen Fitgerald
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
For a short book this is absolutely jam packed with emotion and humour. Part domestic drama, part thriller, part environmental tragedy, coming as this book did on the back of the devastating bushfires in Australia last year, it did not take much to summon up a clear picture of the scene the Helen Fitzgerald so beautifully, and carefully, set. And yet without those pictures in mind, the narrative in this book is so evocative, so rich in imagery that you could almost hear the sizzle of the heat as it seared each page and tore waves through the close community of Ash Mountain, protagonist, Fran’s, childhood home. But this is so much more than just a story about a bushfire, as devastating as that is in itself. This is a story of family, sacrifice, first love and so, so much more. Scandals, long forgotten and deep buried secrets and more are seamlessly built into this story that will have you laughing one moment and on the verge of tears that next. Fran was a character who could be completely acerbic and yet who I found myself warming to, knowing there was far more to her than she may always show. Her love for her children was absolute, her fear of returning home driven by a far deeper reason than may first appear. With my emotions bouncing from shocked to angry to devastated within the space of a few pages, I was an emotional wreck by the end of the book. The story starts and ends with the bushfire that will ultimately devastate the community, as bushfires are wont to do, but takes readers on a journey, back and forth from the present to the days leading up to the fire, and from the moment I started reading I just didn’t want to stop. The emotional impact of this story is as strong now as it was when I first read it. The memory of some of those most touching and poignant moments, when we know the inevitable is about to happen, is still able to bring a tear to my eye. Simply unforgetable.
To read my full review of this book, because I know I haven’t done it justice here, check out my original post here.
Happy #bookvent reading all