A childhood trip from Edinburgh to explore Caitlin’s family’s history results in tragedy on a mountainside above the village of Kinlochleven.
As an adult she is still affected by the events that took place there, though most of her memories of that day were lost as a result of its trauma.
Over a century earlier, Caitlin’s great-great grandmother, Mhairi, watched the village of Kinlochleven being born, suffering through its birth pangs.
Caitlin and Mhairi’s lives are linked by their common heritage, and as their stories become intertwined, Caitlin is drawn back to the question that has haunted her for eleven years.
What really happened on that mountainside?
A historic story folded into a contemporary story, the two linked by family, location and events.
I know from previous reading that a novel by Christine Campbell will be about realistic characters dealing with human problems. There will be soul searching and suffering but also kindness and love. In A Mountain of Memories, the understated hero, Matt, is dependable and considerate. He supports Caitlin as she endures physical pain and panic attacks rooted in a traumatic event that occurred when she was 13. A family trip to Kinlochleven to see the home of her great great grandmother Mhairi Merry resulted in a tragic accident in which Caitlin had also been injured.
We move back to 1904 to meet Mhairi, a hard-working, spirited crofter’s daughter, who like Caitlin, grew up, alone with her father. Life for Mhairi and her father is about to change dramatically as hundreds of Irish navvies and their families arrive to build an enormous dam for the production of the first hydro-electric power in Scotland. The work is dangerous, and their living conditions are harsh but locals like James Merry resent and distrust the newcomers. Despite this, Mhairi makes friends amongst the women and soon she meets “the most beautiful man she ever did set her eyes upon.”
I was fascinated to read about the experiences of Mhairi and her kin in such a dramatic era of change in the Highlands and really hoped for her happiness but I also enjoyed accompanying Caitlin as she tried to solve the mystery of her lost memories. The outcome is life-changing and upsetting but it strengthens the relationships she has with those she can trust. An unusual, thought-provoking read.
A Mountain of Memories can be found on Amazon UK
My review of Searching for Summer by Christine Campbell
And her more recent novel Gold Plated