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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“[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.”
“Lyrical and faintly political (but never pedantic), Heart Spring Mountain is a timely wonder of a debut.”
“Poetic....A love song to the natural world, and a plea for its protection.”
“A novel of compassion for ourselves and for those who came before us.”