Down from Cascom Mountain
By Ann Joslin Williams
Completed August 18, 2011
The New Hampshire mountains come alive in Ann Joslin Williams’s debut book, Down from Cascom Mountain. While the setting was beautiful, the lives of the characters were less tranquil. Down from Cascom Mountain explores many themes, including marriage and grief, through a character-driven story.
Mary Walker and her husband Michael return to her childhood home on Cascom Mountain. Mary is thrilled to return home – to be enveloped in the memories of her youth. Sadly, the reunion with her past is marred when her husband loses his balance during a hike, killing him instantly. Grief-stricken, Mary’s home transforms into her respite – a place where she can grieve for the loss of Michael.
Meanwhile, at the nearby lodge, Callie is a young search-and-rescue worker who has her first sexual foray with her group leader. It’s a disastrous relationship – only evident by midnight trollops – and one that has an unwanted outcome for Callie. We also meet Tobin, another teenager who lives near Mary, whose life has been plagued by his mentally ill mother. Tobin has many nervous ticks and OCD – surely a projection of his repressed maternal issues – and he begins a protective vigil over Mary as she mourns.
I loved Williams’s depiction of the New Hampshire mountains and way of life. She did a fantastic job making Cascom Mountain into its own character – beautiful and dangerous. I was less enraptured by some of the characters, namely Mary, who I didn’t find too sympathetic, despite the tragic loss of her husband. Down from Cascom Mountain is a good book, and I think as Williams becomes more experienced, we will see her career grow and prosper. ( )