The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, USA, 2010

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, USA, 2010

This is an easy-to-read page turner, which unlike many other easy-to-read page turners does have sufficient weight behind it to make the read worthwhile. I saw the film some years back, and although I like both Idris Elba and Kate Winslet as actors, and although the cinematography is spectacular, I feel that the book is better than the film – no surprise there.

Two strangers, Dr Benjamin Payne and Ashley Knox find themselves stranded at Salt Lake City airport when a snow storm grounds all commercial flights. Both of them have reasons for getting back east as quickly as possible – Benjamin has work commitments and Ashley is about to be married – and when Ben persuades the owner of a private charter plane to fly him to Denver, he invites Ashley along for the ride.

Image from 20th Century Studios

Of course nothing goes according to plan, and shortly after take-off they find themselves on the top of a mountain in the middle of a vast, white, freezing wilderness with a crashed plane, a dead pilot, a dog (whose name they cannot remember), and numerous injuries. Their immediate concern is to survive; their next-to-immediate concern is to reach some form of civilization. Both are athletes, and their physical stamina together with Ben’s medical knowledge play a large part in their fight for survival.

The narration in the present is interspersed with Ben’s conversations with his wife, Rachel. The conversations, spoken into a battery-powered recorder, give the reader a picture of Ben’s past life and his relationship and marriage with a woman who is obviously the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to him. This reality is sandwiched between the intimation of a growing sexual attraction between Ben and Ashley and the hopelessness of their situation.

Photo of Charles Martin from charlesmartinbooks

Martin gives what feels like a realistic picture of the tribulations facing the two, studded with a number of worthwhile hints regarding wilderness survival. The ending, though not a complete surprise, is, in relation to the book as a whole, both satisfactory and believable. If you are looking for a light read, you will not be disappointed.

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