Under the mountain

Lying in her sick bed in her family’s Scottish country house, Catherine looks through the window to the garden and witnesses a violent event. For reasons she only later understands, she protects the perpetrator. The repercussions of her decision during that summer in 1981 will echo through her – and her cousin Rosa’s – life for many years to come. A character mystery filled with ideas about truth and love and how maybe the world is a book written in quanta.

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‘It is Cooke’s dual ability to pick apart beautifully the daytime details of cosy family life while also exploring much loftier themes of God, truth, memory and love that set her aside as a mature, intensely emotional and intelligent writer… Cooke has created a thought-provoking family study, brimming with insight… Although she does not shy away from the murkier or melancholic moments, it is these glimpses of human resilience that give her narration a moving, arresting power.’
Claire Sawers, Sunday Times

‘Cooke’s second novel takes as its premise – a story-type made familiar by L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between and Ian McEwan’s Atonement – a child who sees something he or she isn’t supposed to see, and who either does or does not speak about it. This moment where innocence is lost ensures the catastrophic turn of events for the adults around the child concerned. But familiarity doesn’t make for a work of any less value, and Cooke’s sublime writing easily establishes this novel on its own. Told in flashback, we see a very young Catherine ill in bed in the grand but dilapidated old house she shares with her frustrated mother, Natasha, and her over-intellectual, distracted father, George. Her cousins, Sam and Rosa, are visiting with their widowed mother, Ellie, who doesn’t seem to understand that her in-laws may live in a great big house but are struggling financially to the extent that a single peach eaten without permission causes ructions. Cooke is excellent on unspoken family tensions and her characters’ psychological motivations always ring true with a density that recalls Virginia Woolf. Of the younger generation of Scottish writers being published now, Cooke is one of the best.’
Scottish Review Of Books

‘A wise, ambitious and involving work flowering in psychological insight, it leaves less nuanced epics in its shade.’ – Kevin MacNeil, author of The Stornoway Way

Published by: Random House
Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-0099469131