15 February 2012

Review: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

A snowstorm and a closed airport bring two strangers together as they charter a small plane in an attempt to outrun a storm system. Dr Ben Payne attended a medical conference, then spent a few days indulging in his hobby of mountain climbing. Ashley Knox, a successful journalist, is heading home for her wedding. As the plane is flying over one of the harshest wilderness areas in the United States, the pilot suffers an unexpected heart attack. He miraculously manages to land the plane, but does not survive the impact.

Both Ashley and Ben are injured in the crash, Ben with cracked ribs and Ashley with a broken leg that renders her immobile. Fortunately, Ben has the medical skills to treat them both, and the survival skills to keep them alive in the unforgiving whiteout conditions. However, he soon realises that there will be no rescue, and if they are to survive they must break the first rule of air crash survival and leave the site of the crash to seek civilisation, safety – and food.

Interspersed with the highs and lows of their survival trek are the recordings that Ben makes for his wife, Rachel. As the story progresses, we learn about their meeting, courtship, marriage and, gradually, their separation – although the cause of their separation, that mountain between them, is not something that Ben discusses. Meanwhile, as Ashley listens to the recordings, she considers her own relationship with her fiancĂ©, and wonders how their relationship compares with the obvious love Ben has for Rachel.

It has to be said that I tend not to read books written by men, as they are often long on testosterone and explosions, and short on character development and plot. The Mountain Between Uswas therefore a very pleasant surprise, with its dual focus on the physical survival of Ben and Ashley, and the emotional survival of Ben and Rachel’s relationship.

Overall, this is a beautifully-written bittersweet tale that examines the nature of love and fidelity against a backdrop of survival in a harsh, unforgiving environment. Although it is published by a mainstream rather than a Christian publisher, it contains no swearing or other objectionable content, and it has an underlying premise of faith – not any words or anything I could put my finger on, just a sentiment (a quick Amazon search found that some of his earlier books were published by Thomas Nelson, a prominent Christian publisher). I very much enjoyed this book, and am glad that I stepped out of my literary comfort zone to read it.


  1. Hi Iola, I LOVE Charles Martin books!! I'm so glad you did hop out of your comfort zone! My husband and I both love his books. :)I've got his latest book hopefully arriving this week sometime :)

  2. Jess - Wow - an author men and women both enjoy! Stop back and tell us what you think about his new book. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Iola, just flicking through some of your reviews and saw this one! forgotten I'd commented! You know, I don't review his books on our blog (book review sisters) as I love them so much! Weird isn't it? I did review Where the River Ends though.

    Here's the link if you want to see what I thought.