The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Now a film starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet
What if your life depended on a stranger?
On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled because of a storm, Ben charters a small plane that can fly around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more passenger, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.
Then the unthinkable happens and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness. Ben, who has broken ribs, and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot’s dog, are faced with a battle to survive. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, will they ever be the same again?
WOW! Well where do I start?
I had seen the trailer for the adaption of this novel and it immediately captured my interest! Two words, IDRIS ELBA!
Say no more!
But when I picked up the novel in my local book shop, I discovered the synopsis was just as intriguing! When I opened the novel, I was completely and utterly blown away! The writing is superb, and the author does a very clever job of slowly drawing you into the novel and then ripping your heart out, piece by piece!
But first, let me explain, what I am trying to get across.
The novel centres around the two main protagonist’s Dr Ben Payne and Ashley Knox. They meet at Salt Lake City airport, when their flights home are cancelled due to an incoming storm. Ben manages to arrange a charter aircraft at a local private airport and offers Ashley, the spare seat.
Who wouldn’t get in a plane with Idris Elba? I mean Ben!
Rather than face a lengthy journey home.
As the conversation unravels between Ben, Ashley and pilot Grover. We learn ben has been happily married for 15yrs and Grover almost 50 yrs. They offer a wealth of advice and guidance to Ashley, who is due to be married in 48hrs. Ben is an orthopaedic surgeon in paediatrics and Ashley is a writer. They slowly build up to, an almost banter like, conversation. They are both very endearing. I was drawn to both of their stories. Especially Ben, his backstory takes centre stage and drives the narrative. Every time I turned the page, I was desperate to learn more about Ben and his wife Rachel.
Then the plane crashes and everything as we know it, suddenly changes!
When Ben comes around, he quickly scrambles to treat Ashley’s injuries and his own broken ribs. With his background in emergency medicine and mountaineering, it seems he is the perfect hero. But where are they? And how far are they from civilisation? Can Ben treat and sustain Ashley’s injuries?
We become aware the plane crash landed in the High Uintas wilderness. 1.3 million acres of uncivilised wilderness and one of the most remote places on earth!
Things are not looking good!
Factoring in Ashley’s broken femur and their scarce resources. I became very worried for the young couple, very quickly!
Throughout the novel there is alternating, reflective chapters of Ben’s backstory. How he met his wife Rachel and the story of his proposal and marriage. It is heart warming reading, that melts the heart.
“You gave me the one thing he never did. Love, absent a stopwatch”
Back to the mountain crash site and unlikely pair, are now strangers in dire straits, desperate for survival. Ben doe’s his best to tend the wounds, but there are moments when he must leave Ashley with just the pilots dog for company. As he attempts to source provisions.
“Darkness does that. It speaks fears that, left alone, remain unspoken, yet real”
“Hope goes along way toward keeping somebody alive”
The novel explores Ben and Ashley’s inner strength, grit and determination to survive. I could not put this book down! I hung on every page.
When the days turn into weeks, you begin to wonder if they will survive. Or if the tape recordings they are making, to Ben’s wife Rachel, will be the only thing left of them on the mountainside.
The pilot was not required to formalise a flight plan and with no working GPS. The situation becomes more and more dire. It is the beautiful stories from Ben’s past, that keep you reading on and desperate for their survival, at all costs.
“A wedding is a bleeding together of those two souls. Like two rivers running together. All that water becoming the same water”
Ben’s stories open Ashley’s eyes to a different kind of love that exists in the world. A deeper, spiritual love, like Ben has with his wife Rachel.
“Live or die… I want a love like this”
The writing is simply beautiful, and I had so many quotes in my notes. Some are philosophically profound and incredibly powerful. I really felt an emotional pull to the story and there was tears towards the end.
“Being lost with you is better than being found and alone”
This really is a beautiful novel, that WILL strike out at your feels! I usually have a heart of ice and an armour of steel. But I will not be forgetting this novel in a hurry! The words, emotions and revelation pack a mighty punch!
“You asked once, what can’t be forgiven”