Review

Burnt Mountain

by Anne Rivers Siddons

Thayer Wentworth had colossal inner strength that she was only just beginning to understand. Like many young girls, she was not close to her mother, but had a sisterly affection for her grandmother, whom she nicknamed "Grand." She will wish many times over that she followed her Grand's advice and not let her husband, Aengus, take her too far into the "Irish thing."

There's a magical quality to the writing of Anne Rivers Siddons. She has an intuitive knowledge of human nature and the limitations of the human spirit. She fleshes out her characters in such a way that you know them and can follow their development throughout the story. There are nuggets of wisdom, such as a conversation between Thayer and Grand, when Grand declares that "mothers are givers of roots, seldom of wings."

"There's a magical quality to the writing of Anne Rivers Siddons. She has an intuitive knowledge of human nature and the limitations of the human spirit."

After a rocky relationship with her first true love at Camp Greyledge on Burnt Mountain in North Georgia, which she never wanted to attend, Thayer meets and marries Aengus O'Neill, her Irish Folklore professor at the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. Their life together starts like a fairy tale romance. Aengus is a teacher of many things and sweeps Thayer off her feet. They are very happy together and love each other passionately.

Thayer's mother refuses to attend the wedding, but Grand, who has always been a true supporter, does. There's no reception following the wedding, though Thayer is hopeful that one will eventually be held at the prestigious Piedmont Driving Club, where Atlanta's finest society women belong. Actually it's her sister who holds social status in high regard and wishes she could be seen at the club.

During their honeymoon, tragedy strikes: Grand dies unexpectedly. When the will is read a few days later, Thayer learns that Grand has left her a house she never knew existed. Upon seeing the house for the first time, Thayer and Aengus immediately fall in love with it. They settle in and make it their own in short order. Aengus gets a teaching job nearby, and Thayer works with young children. They have friendly neighbors and seem to be thriving in their new environs.

Yet, in the back of her mind, Thayer hears Grand whispering, "Don't let him go too far into the Irish thing. Don't let him take you there with him." Aengus is asked to teach Irish folklore to the boys at Camp Forever, formerly Thayer's beloved Camp Greyledge, a short distance from their new home. This is when the dynamic of Thayer's life changes, and the plot takes a turn to the darker side of human nature.

Anne Rivers Siddons stands out as a wordsmith, selecting each word perfectly in context, giving the reader the very best opportunity to extract the most emotion and meaning from the story. You will watch as her characters develop and grow, interact, learn and feel. It is a gift to read her novels.

Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on July 1, 2011

Burnt Mountain
by Anne Rivers Siddons

  • Publication Date: July 10, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 044669830X
  • ISBN-13: 9780446698306