Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons (audiobook)

Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons is an excellent novel and makes it onto my favorite books list. It has been about fifteen or so years since I’ve read it, but it holds a special place in my heart. My favorite high school English teacher gave it to me to read and I whipped through the novel. It was a great family saga, but also had great suspense that brought the novel to a stunning conclusion.

Unfortunately, Burnt Mountain does not achieve the heights of Colony. Thayer Wentworth has a childhood marred by tragedy, but also has a wonderful grandmother that sends her to summer camp where she meets and falls in love with Nick Abrams. Thayer is soon heartbroken by Nick, but meets a romantic Irish Professor named Aengus. Grandma Wentworth adores Aengus, but warns that he needs to make sure that he doesn’t get caught up in his love of myths. The young couple moves to a beautiful house in Atlanta that Grandma gave to them and seem to lead an idyllic life. Then things get strange. Aengus starts to help at a summer camp called Forever Young on the top of Burnt Mountain and very weird things transpire. The book randomly ends.

I enjoyed listening to the family saga at first, although the story seemed disjointed at times, jumping from era to era until I was unsure of the exact time setting until the Atlanta Olympics were mentioned at the end. The story started with adult Thayer with Aengus listening to the bus of campers drive by the house and then started to reminisce about her own life growing up. There was also a sidetrack about her parents and how they met and married. It wasn’t needed in the story, but was interesting. Thayer and her mother do not get along. Thayer’s mother Crystal long had a dream of belonging to the upper crust of Atlanta’s society. This dream seemed like it would come true when she married a Wentworth of Atlanta, but Thayer’s father enjoyed life in their small town as the headmaster of a school. Thayer is consistently considered second best to her sister Lily while growing up, but has a special place in her heart for her father and her Grandma Wentworth. She has her love affair at camp.

Then the book jumped into bad clichés and a very strange ending that came out of nowhere. I got very confused about the timeline as the book seemed to be set a lot earlier than the 1990’s and a lot time appeared to have passed for one character, while it seemed like Thayer had just gotten married and settled down with Aengus. Aengus seemed like a great and romantic husband and then suddenly there were unexplained marital woes. I like supernatural stories, but this novel quickly went from a family saga to supernatural at the very end and it didn’t work.

Kate Reading read the audiobook version of Burnt Mountain. I thought she did a great job reading it and enjoyed listening to the novel. A family saga, it was almost like listening to a soap opera as I worked or did dishes. I enjoyed it until the last part of the book which left me wondering “what just happened?”

I think Burnt Mountain itself summed it up with these lines at the end of the novel “It was all ridiculous. It was like a bad suspense movie.”

Overall, this book held great promise especially with the family dynamic between Thayer, Crystal, and Grandma Wentworth, but the entire book fell apart at the end with a change in genre, inconsistent timelines, and abrupt character changes. If you’d like to check out Anne Rivers Siddons, I highly recommend Colony. Her novels also are good books to listen too as you work or are on a long car ride. They are very engaging.

Burnt Mountain is my tenth audiobook for 2011 Audiobook Challenge.

Book Source: Review Copy from Hachette Audio. Thank-you!


  1. What a bummer that this one didn't turn out well for you. I also have this one on audio so I guess I will bump it down on the list.

  2. For my shame, I have not heard of this author, but seems very interesting! I will look for her books!