Thursday, June 23, 2011

Down From Cascom Mountain

Down from Cascom Mountain: A NovelAuthor: Ann Joslin Williams
ISBN: 978-1608193066
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Purchase Link: Down from Cascom Mountain: A Novel
Source: TLC Book Tours

About this Title:

Set in rugged New Hampshire in the aftermath of a fatal accident, this assured debut novel wrestles with grief and desire as a young woman finds her way over the course of one summer.

In Down From Cascom Mountain, newlywed Mary Hall brings her husband to settle in the rural New Hampshire of her youth to fix up the house she grew up in and to reconnect to the land that defined her, with all its beauty and danger. But on a mountain day hike, she watches helplessly as her husband falls to his death. As she struggles with her sudden grief, in the days and months that follow, Mary finds new friendships–with Callie and Tobin, teenagers who live and work on the mountain, and with Ben, the gentle fire watchman. All are haunted by their own losses, but they find ways to restore hope in one another, holding firmly as they navigate the rugged terrain of the unknown and the unknowable, and loves lost and found.

About the Author:
Ann Joslin Williams grew up in New Hampshire. She earned her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of The Woman in the Woods, a collection of linked stories, which won the 2005 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, and her work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, the Iowa Review, the Missouri Review,Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She was the winner of an NEA grant for her work on Down from Cascom Mountain. Williams is an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Visit Ann Joslin William’s website at


This story tells the tale of Mary, a newlywed, who takes her husband to the home of her deceased parents, which is located on Cascom Mountain. Having grown up in New Hampshire, Mary is excited to show her husband the area and enjoy her return home. However, a tragic accident on the mountain claims her husband’s life, leaving Mary to cope with the loss. While trying to find peace and understanding Mary becomes friends with a few workers from a nearby resort. Each character also suffers from loss and is trying to deal with their grief. The novel explores love, loss and the journey to healing and future happiness.

When I was offered the chance to be part of this tour, one of the initial elements that drew me to this book was its setting. I grew up in New Hampshire and so reading this novel was alluring to me. I was happy to find that the novel depicts New Hampshire beautifully. The author is very descriptive and paints a picture of the landscape for the reader. It made me miss the mountains. While the descriptive nature was accurate and beautiful, it was also lengthy. I generally don’t prefer overly descriptive novels because I like to fill in the blanks and set a picture of the scenes in my head. However, for this novel the description didn’t bother me much due to the setting, storyline and my need to confirm its authenticity.

The characters are complex yet easy to understand due to the author’s straightforward, simple and clean writing style. Each character has their own issues that leave them vulnerable yet open to healing. Their emotions and thoughts are in keeping with their age and what you’d expect from young adults today. The realistic nature of these characters was a wonderful addition to the story. It makes both the characters and the story easy to relate to because who hasn’t loved and lost? This story focuses on the mountain as much as it does the people. Everything weaves together to form an emotional exploration of grief, longing, regret and blaming oneself while also finding peace and comfort in a place of loss. Even the title of this book figures into the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was easy to read and though it couldn’t be added to your upbeat summer beach read list, it was enjoyable and thought provoking. I think this book would appeal to a large variety of audiences given its characters, story and relate ability. I enjoyed being part of this tour and I enjoyed reading Down from Cascom Mountain.

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