Monday, August 28, 2017

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin: My take on the book

The Mountain Between Us stars Idris Elba & Kate Winslet

There’s no suspense, no drama at the beginning of The Mountain Between Us; you know right from the get go there’s been a small plane crash. The suspense comes every page after that crash. From the question of how the two survivors can possibly fight and find their way out of the isolated harshness of the wintry landscape they’ve been thrown into. The drama comes from their lives, where they come from, how they relate to each other and what they learn about themselves and each other as they battle the elements.



He’s—luckily—an orthopedic surgeon on his way home from a medical conference which he combined with a little mountain climbing vacation. All that gear and knowledge will come in handy. She’s a beautiful, athletic, independent, modern young woman on her way home for her wedding rehearsal dinner who finds herself completely dependent on this man she has only just met. If ever I am stuck in the snowy mountains, miles from anywhere, I’d want to be stuck with a man as emotionally strong and resourceful as Ben. On a personal note, I couldn’t help comparing Ben to my own husband, wondering how we’d do in similar circumstances and while we might not know too much about surviving in the snow and ice, he’s a McGuyver kind of guy, and that’s the kind of resourcefulness you need to survive anything.

The story unfolds through Ben’s eyes. We know his thoughts, his feelings, in part because throughout the book, he speaks into a recording device, sharing his experience with his wife Rachel. The author goes into great detail sharing their story, going right back to when the two met in high school when they were both avid runners. 

While I loved getting to see inside his head, at the same time, I found myself wishing we knew a little more about Ashley. What we do know about her and the young man she’s engaged to are mostly the snippets she shares with Ben.

It really is his story which is emotionally gripping, and our desire to see both these people make it out alive that keeps us turning the pages. While there were times I found Ben’s recollections and reflections a trifle too cloying—the pedestal he puts Rachel on is very high—and the couples’ conversations he shares having more in common with James Patterson’s saccharine style than I happen to appreciate, I honestly couldn’t put the book down, staying up until two in the morning until I finished it, and crying my little eyes out.

If you haven’t read it, I don’t want to tell you too much—and I’d advise you NOT to read the summary on Amazon, etc—so the story can unfold organically.  

Judging from the pictures I’ve seen, the film takes some liberties with the story. And the casting is probably not exactly what Martin pictured as he wrote the book—Ashley is closer to thirty than Kate Winslet’s forty, and there’s not a thing to suggest the doctor is black. On the other hand, how refreshing, to depict an age appropriate on screen couple, the color of their skin incidental. That’s the kind of world I want to live in.

I don’t do ratings but if I did, I give it 3.75 snowy mountain peaks.

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