Saturday, August 20, 2011

REVIEW: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin


From the author of Where the River Ends, comes this page-turning story of love and survival.

On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport.  Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding.  Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day.   When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection.   And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently.   And then the unthinkable happens.  The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness— one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. 

Ben, who has broken ribs and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot's dog, are faced with an incredibly harrowing battle to survive.   Fortunately, Ben is a medical professional and avid climber (and in a lucky break, has his gear from a climb earlier in the week).  With little hope for rescue, he must nurse Ashley back to health and figure out how they are going to get off the mountain, where the temperature hovers in the teens.   Meanwhile, Ashley soon realizes that the very private Ben has some serious emotional wounds to heal as well.  He explains to Ashley that he is separated from his beloved wife, but in a long standing tradition, he faithfully records messages for her on his voice recorder reflecting on their love affair.  As Ashley eavesdrops on Ben's tender words to his estranged wife she comes to fear that when it comes to her own love story, she's just settling.  And what's more: she begins to realize that the man she is really attracted to, the man she may love, is Ben.

As the days on the mountains become weeks, their survival become increasingly perilous.  How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever?

Both a tender and page-turning read, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.
  • Pub. Date: June 2010
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Format: Hardcover , 336pp
  • ISBN-13: 9780767927000
  • ISBN: 0767927001

About the Author
About Charles, from his website

I used to put a long list of all my great and varied accomplishments right here in this space (In truth, it was rather short.) hoping it made me look important. Now that I’m forty, I’m not sure I see the value. Yes, I have a few degrees and I worked hard to get here, but saying all that reminds me of the story of the guy who walked barefoot, backwards, through the snow, uphill both ways, carrying his horse…to school. (I’m scratching my head.)

Here’s some of the stuff that matters.

Christy and I married in 1993. If you include dating, I’ve known and loved her for more than half my life. She is and always will be the home for my heart. We have three boys. Charlie, John T. and Rives. They range from 12 to 7. Folks often ask me, which of my books do I like the best. You might as well line up my sons and ask me who I love the most.

My hobbies are bow hunting, working out (a blend of old school stuff and martial arts, called Fight Fit) and Tae Kwon Do. Currently, I’m a blue belt and I’m the least flexible person you’ve ever met. The guy that trains me, laughs everytime I start warming up. My boys are far better at Tae Kwon Do than I but I doubt they have as much fun – I get to do and watch. They just do.

I also like to write, but that’s another story.

My Thoughts

I'm not sure what time it is. This thing should record that. I woke a few minutes ago. It's still dark. I don't know how long I was out.
Different parts of the story take place in different areas, but the majority takes place in the Uinta Mountains in Utah and Colorado. High mountains, deep snow, frozen creeks and lakes, tall trees. Mountain lions, moose, wolves. Rugged and pristine, it's flanked by parks numbering in the millions of acres.

I'm gonna keep this one short and sweet. Dr. Ben Payne is trying to get home after a conference and meets Ashley. They chat, and get to know one another a little. Ashley is trying to get home for her wedding, when they both find their flights are canceled. Ben gets the both of them a spot on a charter flight, which then crashes in the Uintas, killing the pilot and injuring the both of them. What ensues is a struggle for survival and a love story involving Ben and his wife, and Ashley and her fiance.

This book wound up not being what I had expected. I was expecting more of a survival story and more romance, and instead wound up having more reflection, angst and turmoil.

Both of the primary characters, Ben and Ashley, are likable. There is something pure about Ben, like he's better than most people. Special. Ashley is strong-minded and her humor carries them through some tough times.

The ending of the book was a surprise, and I found myself boo-hooing through the last 30 pages or so.

This was a good attempt. It wasn't a brilliant piece of literature and didn't bring me to my knees with emotion or thrilling moments, but it was solid and well worth the read.

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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