Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald is domestic noir meets disaster thriller – dark, tragic and funny.
Fran Collins returns to the Australian small country town she grew up in to care for her sick father, reluctant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends.
Ash Mountain is full of childhood memories – Fran’s son from a teenage pregnancy, old friends and rivals, and dark secrets in the seminary – all of which return to haunt her at the same time as she is falling in love. The attraction to her love interest, the Captain, is complicated by the fact that their daughters are also forming a budding relationship.
The story is set against the backdrop of a scorching summer in the days leading up to a cataclysmic bushfire as one timeline, and events from thirty years earlier in another. The claustrophobic small town setting and the knowledge of the pending doomsday bushfire keep the tension cranked, and the narration by a prickly resentful middle aged woman brings plenty of droll humour to the table.
If, like me you live in a bushfire prone are, I recommend reading it in winter.