Heart Spring Mountain
In this evocative first novel, a young woman returns to her rural Vermont hometown in the wake of a devastating storm to search for her missing mother and unravel a powerful family secretIt’s August 2011, and Tropical Storm Irene has just wreaked havoc on Vermont, flooding rivers and destroying homes. One thousand miles away—while tending bar in New Orleans—Vale receives a call and is told that her mother, Bonnie, has disappeared. Despite a years-long estrangement from Bonnie, Vale drops everything and returns home to look for her.Though the hometown Vale comes back to is not the one she left eight years earlier, she finds herself falling back into the lives of the family she thought she’d long since left behind. As Vale begins her search, the narrative opens up and pitches back and forth in time to follow three generations of women—a farming widow, a back-to-the-land dreamer, and an owl-loving hermit—as they seek love, bear children, and absorb losses. All the while, Vale’s search has her unwittingly careening toward a family origin secret more stunning than she ever imagined.Written with a striking sense of place, Heart Spring Mountain is an arresting novel about returning home, finding hope in the dark, and of the power of the land—and the stories it harbors—to connect and to heal. It’s also an absorbing exploration of the small fractures that can make families break-and the lasting ties that bind them together.

Heart Spring Mountain Details

TitleHeart Spring Mountain
Author
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherEcco
ISBN-139780062444455
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Novels, Literary Fiction

Heart Spring Mountain Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    Complex characters, complicated relationships, women living seemingly simple , quiet lives in the woods. A narrative structure that can pose at first a challenge, trying to keep tract of the characters in the present and past since there are multiple time lines, multiple narratives. Yet I enjoyed the challenge and found myself vested in them. In this story of this place called Heart Spring Mountain and the family who lives there or have left there, the writing is lovely from these introspective Complex characters, complicated relationships, women living seemingly simple , quiet lives in the woods. A narrative structure that can pose at first a challenge, trying to keep tract of the characters in the present and past since there are multiple time lines, multiple narratives. Yet I enjoyed the challenge and found myself vested in them. In this story of this place called Heart Spring Mountain and the family who lives there or have left there, the writing is lovely from these introspective narratives of several women and one man . You do have to read with care and make sure to look at the beginning of each chapter, which tells us the person and date . I fell right into their journeys up to and sometimes away from Heart Mountain, but I admit that I had to take some notes until I got further into it. Vale returns to Vermont looking for her drug addicted mother who went missing during Tropical Storm Irene. After seeing an old family photograph, she also begins searching for information about her family, the past . The reader becomes privy to this family history through the narratives of the past as Vale slowly discovers things we already know or surmise. There secrets and deceits and a haunting revelation of a Eugenics program in Vermont's history. I won't go into detail about the names and times because it would be more meaningful if you read this to discover them yourself. I definitely recommend this debut novel, this story of women who in so many ways have a connection to the land. They discover their connection to it, to each other, to their history. There is definitely a message here about global warming and natural disasters. I don’t mind the message and I got it very early on but I think the author didn’t have very much faith in the reader as there are a few too many mentions of natural disasters in various places in the world . BUT, a minor issue because I really enjoyed everything else about it, so 4 stars . I received an advanced copy of this book from Ecco/HarperCollins through Edelweiss.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 This is the kind of book I best like to read. Quiet books that tell the story of land,, nature and the strong people who are tied to this place. The mountains of Vermont, the book begins with a hurricane and heroin. Bonnie has just shot up when the hurricane hits, her daughter n New Orleans, making a living as a barista and part time dancer. She receives a phone call that her mother is missing, and leaves immediately for home.Strong women, unforgettable women, flawed women and the generation 4.5 This is the kind of book I best like to read. Quiet books that tell the story of land,, nature and the strong people who are tied to this place. The mountains of Vermont, the book begins with a hurricane and heroin. Bonnie has just shot up when the hurricane hits, her daughter n New Orleans, making a living as a barista and part time dancer. She receives a phone call that her mother is missing, and leaves immediately for home.Strong women, unforgettable women, flawed women and the generations that came before them all calling this place home. A land that has witnessed their secrets their betrayals and has kept them for a long time. Vale will return to a place and it's people that is in her blood. In her quest to find her mother she will uncover secrets kept, and those she loved changed. Older, but still full of love, want and need. A wonderful book of time and place.The novel goes back and forth in time, narrated by the different women who are family, make this place their home. I loved the way this was written, loved the meanings behind the words. Loved the sense of place and family. We learn the history of the women, share their secrets, see their flaws and come to admire them anyway. Such wonderful characters though some don't live to have a full life, they still are remembered, still leave their mark. If you like the novels of Amy Greene or the novel Mercy Snow, then you will love this as I did.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    Returning home in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, August of 2011, a young woman named Vale leaves her job at a bar in New Orleans to search for, and hopefully find, her mother Bonnie, who has not been seen since the storm.They haven’t seen each other in years, Vale can’t even remember the last time she had spoken to Bonnie, and yet when she hears that her mother is missing she doesn’t hesitate to pack what few things she has and head to Vermont. Her hometown, although she can’t remember what i Returning home in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, August of 2011, a young woman named Vale leaves her job at a bar in New Orleans to search for, and hopefully find, her mother Bonnie, who has not been seen since the storm.They haven’t seen each other in years, Vale can’t even remember the last time she had spoken to Bonnie, and yet when she hears that her mother is missing she doesn’t hesitate to pack what few things she has and head to Vermont. Her hometown, although she can’t remember what it feels like to be there.And then she arrives, and sees bits and pieces of her old life, the places she used to frequent, some changed with the destruction brought by the storm, some unearthed by the storm. The people, she’d left them behind long ago, and yet there is this strong pull she feels when she begins to visit the family still there. The memories flood through her as time passes, each day it seems another thing she finds takes her back along the trails of her life there, all their lives. The people she loved, those that loved her back, those that couldn’t love her in the way she could recognize as love, or even as their best effort at love. And when she returns to Heart Spring Mountain, she is drawn to her family more as she discovers stories she never knew about them, and we are able to hear from other family members in different times that offer enlightening insights into gaps in the family lore that Vale grew up with. These women have their own perspectives, their own stories to tell over the years, from the 1950’s to 2011, the year of Tropical Storm Irene. Each of their unique views on this one place held by her family all these years, one a widow living on a farm, another a former member of a commune, a woman with a wounded, damaged owl. Stories that have been hidden, so long buried in plain sight, are brought to light. There is also the pull of the land which is strong, in this case it is family land long owned, but it goes beyond that. It is the place where these lives were lived, their stories grew from day-to-day lives just being lived to unearthed stories that are attached to a special place and time; the stories are part of the land, taking root and living in this timeless soil.This is not a book one can become complacent about while reading as it does shift in time and from one narrator to another – however, if you remember to look, the narrator and era are noted at the beginning of each chapter. The writing is often lovely, especially in the imagery of the rural Vermont landscape, along with the stories of these people who have carved out a life there for generation upon generation. Heart Spring Mountain covers quite a bit of emotional territory without feeling overly gloomy; there are many moments of joy and hope that help to add a tenderness and maybe even sweetness. Hope is almost like a silent character in this debut novel, always present, but sometimes overlooked in all the rushing about in Vale’s search for her mother. In the process of the search for Vale’s mother, she finds more than she bargained for, and a long-hidden family secret is slowly brought to light. Pub Date: 09 Jan 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Echo / HarperCollins
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't forget about this book, finally I can share my review:Via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/"She knows nothing of war. Her pain comes from different wounds, but isn’t all pain shaded the same color? Soft blue, plum. Running up and down our veins. Recognizable across the room."I had the pleasure of reading an uncorrected proof of this novel months ago and it found me at just the right time. I was in the mood for nature, for disappearing and the writing hit me in all the righ I didn't forget about this book, finally I can share my review:Via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/"She knows nothing of war. Her pain comes from different wounds, but isn’t all pain shaded the same color? Soft blue, plum. Running up and down our veins. Recognizable across the room."I had the pleasure of reading an uncorrected proof of this novel months ago and it found me at just the right time. I was in the mood for nature, for disappearing and the writing hit me in all the right spots. I finished it late one night, sad that I’d have to wait months to write a review, because it’s a gorgeous debut novel. Vale has made a life for herself in New Orleans, away from her drug addicted mother, where she now tends the bar, immersing herself in the rhythm of her surrounding. In this life Vale is clean, sober, no longer influenced by her mother’s dysfunction, addiction. Watching tropical storm Irene on tv, she realizes that the river town being washed away by floods in Vermont is the one her mother lives on, and it isn’t immune to severe storms after all. A call from her aunt Deb, who feels more like a stranger than blood, stuns her with news that her mother walked off into the surging storm, seen by a neighbor walking towards the very bridge that has just collapsed. She grabs her cash and finds a bus back to the last place she ever wanted to return to. Why was her mother so restless, so desperate to escape a life of order?Home again in Heart Spring (her family’s mountain) everything has changed, she sees the life her mother abandoned with different eyes. What Vale thinks she knows about her ancestors is poisoned by everything her mother has taught her. Her foolish, wild, free mother who believed they carried Indian blood. Was she just appropriating a culture, just how much history did her mother have right? Her aunt Hazel, unbeknownst to her, has a mind that is a ‘leaky ship full of holes.” She wonders, Is this Bonnie whom the storm has spit out… No. It is Bonnie’s girl, Vale, here to find her missing mother. How is Hazel ever going to communicate everything she knows, feels, remembers (all those things that are wrong and makes things right) when she herself is slowly disappearing? How can she let go of this life, when there is no one to care for the land, so deeply ingrained in her soul, that their ancestors settled? Vale has come to hate what the land represents, a cruel history stolen from the natives at hands of her family. But why do the remains of their past, family photos, tell a different story?The addiction Bonnie has, the wreck she’s made of her life is evident, but there is still beauty in the memories Vale has. When you come to understand where the wildness in Bonnie springs from, there is a keener sense of understanding how the ruptures came about. Lena and Bonnie are both mysteries begging to be solved, both ghosts in their lifetimes. Vale is strong, but she is lost without a true history.When Deb was young, she wanted to be free, to get back to the grass-roots of her grandmother’s people, the farming of crops, working the land, seduced by the writing of Thoreau and her grandmother’s memories, she makes her way to the mountain, to what she feels will be freedom! What she finds is a commune, but her youthful idealism will be shattered when the reality of hunger, poverty, betrayal, and the ever shifting direction of love occurs. When she finds Stephen, she clings, makes a home for herself beside him though he is unlike her fellow ‘hippie makeshift family’, the very ones she has walked away from. Over time, it becomes clear that a child isn’t enough to pull him out of his silences. Deb and Hazel (Stephen’s mother), are two lonely women who never wanted each other, blameless and yet pointing fingers at one another for the tragedy that takes place and here they are stuck together. Deb of the present is a mother longing for her grown son’s return, far more attuned to working with nature than she was in her wide-eyed youth, caring for her mother-in-law, as close to the version of the grandmother she once longed to be as she’ll ever get.Past and present reveal secrets about three generation of women, hidden truths that change the structure of the family as they know it. We meet the family hermit Lena, a spirited woman who was as much a part of nature as any creature of the earth. Untamed, misunderstood and just as capable of passion as any ‘proper lady’. Hazel is the steady sister, the keeper of order, and the one whose heart breaks on the cruelty of years, losing everything she has come to love. Hazel, ‘a lifetime spent taking care of others.’ Why can’t she be selfish? Why, why does everyone prefer those who are free, abandon people like her who give so much, who make the right choice even when it robs her of all happiness? Why is nothing ever fully hers?I know I am all over the place, much like the novel, because it is true that it jumps. It can be a problem for me sometimes with other novels, but I was so deeply engaged by all the characters that it flowed beautifully for me. I had my heart in my throat halfway through, thinking about the cruelties of life and the infections of love, because love isn’t always safe, romantic nor loyal. It’s not just a novel about an estranged mother and daughter, nor drug addiction, nor faults in family lines, it’s about all those things and nature is an ever-present character, sometimes a beast that reminds you it’s beyond your control. How wrong we are about each other, and even more about ourselves. How much does our anger towards others matter at the end? What do we keep with our pain? What do we gain when we let it go?Available NowHarperCollins
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    A lot of potential, but a little hard to follow. Full review to come.
  • Chris Mara
    January 1, 1970
    A highly absorbing story of three generations of women each coping with their own lives, loves, losses and pain. They are deeply connected to their rural home land of Vermont and are tied to each other but not in a normal, open way. There are hidden inter generational family secrets and inner struggles. So there is a quest by the youngest woman, Vale, to find her missing mother, Bonnie, (presumably drowned) during a tropical storm. It’s been a year since they last saw each other and it was under A highly absorbing story of three generations of women each coping with their own lives, loves, losses and pain. They are deeply connected to their rural home land of Vermont and are tied to each other but not in a normal, open way. There are hidden inter generational family secrets and inner struggles. So there is a quest by the youngest woman, Vale, to find her missing mother, Bonnie, (presumably drowned) during a tropical storm. It’s been a year since they last saw each other and it was under very bad circumstances. It is Vale who basically sets her formerly useless, stagnant life in motion by actively searching for her mother back home. The entire process allows her to find her true inner self as well as make peace and to have hope for the future and repair/reinvent family relationships. The author wrote parts of this story in a different style of some short staccato like sentences intermingled with normal length sentences. This was different yet had an impact on me. I found myself really connecting with those feelings/descriptions on those short worded “sentences/phrases.” There was no need to add any other filler words to gain the impact desired. It was written to be bold and blunt and true. I liked it; it was rather refreshing. However, other readers may find it hard to follow, or just dislike it altogether. Examples: “Ever restless.” “Feel minuscule, evaporated.” “Flicker of bus lights. Pounding wheels.” “Feathered, pink-eared, blue-veined. Easter egg bird.”“Naked. Rolling. A dog in its arms. No. Something smaller. Pink. The child is laughing. It’s a pig.”
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    A challenging read as it moves back and forth in time and between narrators. Family secrets and lies usually make for good novels; this is no exception. Vale has returned to Vermont to find her mother Bonnie, who has gone missing in the wake of a hurricane (ironically, she was working in New Orleans.). This is not the Ben-and-Jerry's Vermont. Heart Spring Mountain has been home to generations of Vale's family and it's not always pretty. It's interesting to see the evolution of the women. Thanks A challenging read as it moves back and forth in time and between narrators. Family secrets and lies usually make for good novels; this is no exception. Vale has returned to Vermont to find her mother Bonnie, who has gone missing in the wake of a hurricane (ironically, she was working in New Orleans.). This is not the Ben-and-Jerry's Vermont. Heart Spring Mountain has been home to generations of Vale's family and it's not always pretty. It's interesting to see the evolution of the women. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    3.5/5This book had some interesting concepts. It discusses what we owe to our ancestors, what we owe to the land we grew up on, and what we owe to the world in general. There were a lot of good descriptions of the land and I liked that. However, after awhile I was a little bit over it all. There were too many weird descriptions of sexual experiences. That’s not my favorite and I guess for some people that is a part of life and caring for yourself. But for me, I just didn’t really need all of tha 3.5/5This book had some interesting concepts. It discusses what we owe to our ancestors, what we owe to the land we grew up on, and what we owe to the world in general. There were a lot of good descriptions of the land and I liked that. However, after awhile I was a little bit over it all. There were too many weird descriptions of sexual experiences. That’s not my favorite and I guess for some people that is a part of life and caring for yourself. But for me, I just didn’t really need all of that. I think the tone of the book was so interesting. It was sad, hopeful, but also looking toward the future in a way that also wasn’t hopeful. I also really liked the exploration of those themes I named above. As someone who doesn’t really have too much of a cultural heritage, it was interesting to see others, who didn’t think they had one either, find those things in the artifacts of their ancestors. If you like stories that take place in the country, you like stories about land and ancestors, then check this book out in early January! Although it wasn’t my favorite I’m glad I got an early copy. Check out my review in the school newspaper at http://www.thecrimson.com/article/201...
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I found this story very difficult to follow. It was narrated by several women and the story line bounced over several time periods. Bonnie disappears during a hurricane and her estranged daughter Vale returns home to look for her. Lena the grandmother is still around and Vale works on developing a relationship with her. The story line was a good one, mirroring recent events but I just couldn't stay interested in the characters.
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  • goodoldtree
    January 1, 1970
    Family secrets & the quiet, sometimes complicated nature of small towns are at the heart of this book. In alternating perspectives across decades, the women of one family reflect on their lives, and loves, and a distinct connection to family land. MacArthur manages to capture both the magic and grit of Vermont perfectly here--I loved it.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you for making this title available. Unfortunately, the further I read, the more I was convinced that this was not the kind of book that I would enjoy. This is no criticism whatsoever of the plot, characters, writing style, setting, or the author. Merely a statement of my own preferences.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    If you are a Vermonter, and if you are familiar with Southern Vermont, you'll want to read this if even just for the setting. MacArthur gets women in Vermont and she gets Vermont itself. The narrative is complex and a bit hard to follow at the beginning. I found myself wishing I'd diagrammed the characters. But it is worth hanging in there as it all comes together. It weakens a bit towards the end, but mostly it meanders appropriately and some of the writing is simply beautiful. This is one of t If you are a Vermonter, and if you are familiar with Southern Vermont, you'll want to read this if even just for the setting. MacArthur gets women in Vermont and she gets Vermont itself. The narrative is complex and a bit hard to follow at the beginning. I found myself wishing I'd diagrammed the characters. But it is worth hanging in there as it all comes together. It weakens a bit towards the end, but mostly it meanders appropriately and some of the writing is simply beautiful. This is one of the few books I'd read again just because I think I could still get something more from it.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not sure what I think about this book. I have mixed feelings. I do give it a 3 star rating. It was 2011 in the mist of hurricane Irene. Bonnie a drug addict goes missing. When her daughter Vale comes home to search for her mother. She finds a whole more. Family secrets are dug up. Secret bones that were meant to stay hidden. Complex characters, Women living their simple live in the Mountains. There is a lot going on and sometimes hard to follow.
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  • Stacey
    January 1, 1970
    Touching on the lives of four generations of Vermont women living on Heart Spring Mountain. A beautifully crafted story about family, love, ancient magic, global warming, and the opioid epidemic. I picked this up ready for a good but slow dark read. Instead I found the story’s structure of weaving all the characters together kept the pace going even with the darkness.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    Robin MacArthur's debut novel is an earthy, true grit, tri-generational story by a woman, about women, and for women. Exceptionally well crafted, a multi-sensory feast---at times, I could close my eyes and and smell the cabin she described, then feel and see it. I can not wait to read more of Robin's writing.
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  • Jane Sorensen
    January 1, 1970
    This book touched me. It was a recommendation in the Duxbury Free Library newsletter last month, and I am grateful for that. Set in rural Vermont, multi generations of women cope with their worlds. Its a lovely, thoughtful read.
  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    Admittedly, this was a DNF for me -- nice writing, unique settings, but too many fragmentary narrative threads + not my brand of bleak.
  • Kim Le
    January 1, 1970
    I liked the story itself but the way it was set up made it so difficult to follow; no lie - I was taking notes and eventually drew a family tree.
  • Lee Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this first novel by a native Vermonter!
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