Helen Fitzgerald’s Ash Mountain adds to the many very good novels set in Australia published in the past few years. A concise book, only 211 pages, it packs a punch and has a lasting resonance.

Told from multiple perspectives, the story has at its heart Fran, the single mother, who’s returned to the place she grew up, in small-town Victoria, to take care of her ailing dad. But being back in Ash Mountain means looking to the past and events of thirty years before for Fran. And then a devastating event occurs that changes everything, not just for her, but for the people of the town too.

Set over ten days, and intercut with the past, Ash Mountain’s background is the terrible firestorms that hit Australia, as the world watched on in such horrified fascination. Fitzgerald plunges us into the action of that world from the very first pages, her prose tightly packed, yet full of dark humour and moments of strange grace, as her story unfolds.

Well-penned, beautifully plotted with great characters, Ash Mountain is an extremely good read, the last thirty or so pages, in particular, full of heart-in-mouth moments. A book you’ll remember; we can’t recommend it enough.


Helen Fitzgerald | Ash Mountain | Orenda | paperback | 20 August 2020 | £8.99

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Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the book tour organised by Random Things Tours. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation. Thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other reviews on this tour. All credit to Rob Dixon who took the cover photo image of his daughter on 18 November 2019 during the fires.

See also: ‘Jane Harper’s debut The Dry, murder and mayhem in small-town Australia’;CWA’s Vintage Crime’; ‘Amanda Craig’s homage to Highsmith‘; ‘Chris Whitaker’s small-town America’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Sanctuary: an Old Familiar’; Carver’s Nothing Important Happened Today’; By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Also of interest: Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); Hitchcock (2012); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956). Hitchcock (2012).

This review is copyright © 2020 by The Literary Shed. All rights are reserved. All opinions expressed are our own. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please contact us for permission and provide the necessary credit. Thank you so much. We welcome your feedback.






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