January 2018 Indie Next List
“Following her splendid 2016 short story collection, Half Wild (an Indies Introduce selection), Robin MacArthur's first novel revisits rural Vermont and uses a mixture of lyrical and earthy prose to explore three generations of a family riddled by secrets and burdens of the past. This area of the country, previously overlooked by literature, proves to be rich ground that, while isolated, cannot avoid intrusions from the outside world in the form of man-made and natural disasters. The focus is on an extended family that can trace its roots back to Puritan ancestors but struggles against poverty, the unforgiving environment, and the lure of drugs. Heart Spring Mountain will introduce you to a host of memorable characters engaged in human folly and saved by redemptive love.”
— Joe Strebel, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
Winter 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“Reminiscent of the writing style of Jesmyn Ward, Robin MacArthur’s story draws the reader into rural Vermont and the secrets of multi-generational families. Following the devastation of Hurricane Irene, a family is faced with loss, addiction, and poverty. A drug-addicted mother, after shooting up, ventures out into the raging storm and disappears. Her daughter’s search for her and her family’s heritage brings sadness and understanding.”
— Kristen Kuehnle, Fine Print Booksellers, Kennebunkport, ME
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 secret
It’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.
About the Author
Robin MacArthur lives and works on the farm where she was born in Vermont. She is the author of Half Wild: Stories (winner of the 2017 PEN/New England Award), the editor of Contemporary Vermont Fiction: An Anthology, and one-half of the indie-folk duo Red Heart the Ticker.
“A revelation...As rich as the fertile earth and as powerful as a surging storm. Every page is filled with wonder and beauty, compassion and longing. The women MacArthur has brought to life...will haunt and inspire and stick around long after their stories are told.”
— Ivy Pochoda, author of Wonder Valley and Visitation Street
“Traveling back and forth in time, Robin MacArthur renders both the Vermont landscape and Vale’s family tree with poetic precision and gutting realism. I fell in love with these women and their mountain.”
— Alexis M. Smith, author of Marrow Island
— Library Journal
“A fecund and contemplative feminist family saga.”
“Powerful...MacArthur demonstrates a commanding ability to weave meaning from separate narrative threads, exploring how the impact of a person’s choices can echo through generations, even as a storm washes the past away.”
“Tender....nuanced, poetic, and evocative. MacArthur empathetically depicts each of her characters in their wounded but hopeful glory.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] story of hope, the possibility of resurrection by a person, a people, and a planet, and a magnificent, rutting, music-steeped will to survive... MacArthur on the page makes music. She sings in a way that makes the reader’s ear dance.”
— Brattleboro Reformer
“Lyrical and faintly political (but never pedantic), Heart Spring Mountain is a timely wonder of a debut.”
— Shelf Awareness
“Poetic....A love song to the natural world, and a plea for its protection.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A novel of compassion for ourselves and for those who came before us.”