Ann Joslin Williams grew up observing the craft of writing: her father, Thomas Williams, was a National Book Award--winning novelist. Many of his stories were set in the fictional town of Leah, New Hampshire, and on nearby Cascom Mountain, locations that closely mirrored the landscape of the WIlliamses' real hometown. With Down From Cascom Mountain, Ann Joslin Williams proves herself a formidably talented novelist in her own right, while paying tribute to her father by setting her debut novel in the same fictional world--the New Hampshire he imagined and that she has always known.
Set in rugged New Hampshire in the aftermath of a fatal accident, this assured debut novel wrestles with grief and desire as a young woman finds her way over the course of one summer.
In Down From Cascom Mountain, newlywed Mary Hall brings her husband to settle in the rural New Hampshire of her youth to fix up the house she grew up in and to reconnect to the land that defined her, with all its beauty and danger. But on a mountain day hike, she watches helplessly as her husband falls to his death. As she struggles with her sudden grief, in the days and months that follow, Mary finds new friendships--with Callie and Tobin, teenagers who live and work on the mountain, and with Ben, the gentle fire watchman. All are haunted by their own losses, but they find ways to restore hope in one another, holding firmly as they navigate the rugged terrain of the unknown and the unknowable, and loves lost and found.
The Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2011
Review by Elizabeth Taylor
LA Book Review: "Down From Cascom Mountain"
From "Los Angeles Times" 6.19.11
New York Times Book Review
Fiction Chronicle, Sunday July 24, 2011
Book Review: "Down From Cascom Mountain"
From "North Shore Book Notes" by Rae Francouer
National Endowment for the Arts, Writers' Corner
Read an excerpt from Down From Cascom Mountain here.
Down From Cascom Mountain
Reviews for Down From Cascom Mountain
"The reader is deeply invested, caught up in Mary's grieving, or in Tobin's failure to forgive his mother. Their stories are made memorable."
The Los Angeles Times
"In the wilds of New Hampshire one formative summer, a series of character-building—or breaking—events is visited upon a group of young men and women whose paths cross tragically on the slopes of Cascom Mountain...(a) gratifying tale."
New York Times Book Review
"Ann Joslin Williams has written an emotionally resonant novel that inspires readers to care about Mary, her constellation of friends and this place they love."
The Chicago Tribune
"Ann Joslin Williams' newly released novel Down From Cascom Mountain is intriguing and unusual in the way it is both literary fiction and edge-of-your-seat page-turner."
Rae Francoeur, North Shore Book Notes
Read full reviews. Links to the left.
Ann Joslin Williams has crafted a stellar first novel that reads as if it's her tenth. With the finely wrought prose of a poet, Williams gives us flesh and blood characters we can't help but care about, women, men, and children who find themselves deep in dangerous terrain: the natural world of Cascom Mountain, as well as their own conflicted and natural longings. This a haunting and lovely book!
--Andre Dubus, III, author of House of Sand and Fog and Townie.
There seems to be no element of these people and this landscape to which Williams is a stranger. She sees straight to the heart of her characters, and it is a pleasure to witness them yearning and grieving and loving their way through these pages, one living human presence after another, the mountain and the forest rising up around them in all their mystery and specificity.
--Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead and Illumination.
Sexy, following a rugged path from sorrow to salvation, Williams' new book is made from the serious materials of sudden grief -- but it isn't sad In the least. On the contrary! There's a fierce, hard-won joy here, as
sturdy as the mountains of New Hampshire, and as glorious.
--Michael Byers, author of Long For This World and Percival’s Planet
Here in are the qualities of enduring greatness, our turbulent natures, instructions for life. Inside these covers there’s a woman’s profound love, a terrible and beautiful world, the claw of grief. Her story is told with grace and dignity and the kind of writing we hunger for: straight and true, spare and generous.
--Robert Olmsted, author Stay Here With Me and Coal Black Horse
Down From Cascom Mountain is a thrilling and gorgeous novel, one that reaches far beneath the surface of human experience to reveal the roots of love and illuminate the depths of loss. In her virtuosic prose, Williams leads us into a rocky Northern landscape as dangerous as it is seductive; along the way, we come to know her characters as intimately as old friends. Their grief, hope, and desire will follow you far beyond the pages of this unforgettable book, and will lead you to recommend it to everyone you know.
--Julie Orringer, author of How to Breathe Underwater and The Invisible Bridge