Helen Fitzgerald: Ash Mountain

This review is written with thanks to the TBC Reviewers Group for my copy of Ash Mountain.


Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…


Having read Worst Case Scenario last year, I am familiar with Fitzgerald’s writing style, which blends humour and poignancy to create a story which really stands out and makes you think. Ash Mountain is exactly the same and I enjoyed it even more. 

Fitzgerald’s sense of place is wonderful. I’ve never been to Australia before but I could picture the setting in my mind as if I was reading the book there myself. Having grown up in a small town myself, I can relate to Fran and her desire to get away and her trepidation in coming back. These emotions were conveyed really well. 

The small town setting gives Fitzgerald the opportunity to introduce us to a number of interesting characters. Although the novel is relatively short, I felt that each character had great depth and their motivations and emotions were explored in a lot of detail. 

Fitzgerald explores some really important issues in Ash Mountain which will give the novel relevance many years to come. Themes such as sexuality, sexual abuse and death make this novel really poignant. 

Ash Mountain is available from Amazon.


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