July 15

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The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti

I am sure this book has inflated property prices in the Italian Alps.  When you read about the small Italian family and their holidays spent climbing mountains you will know what I mean.

Set over at least 30 years, The Eight Mountains is about relationships and how different people escape and/or embrace life and fear. This is the story of a family of climbers, where each and every one is different from the others.  The father loves the highest parts of the mountain, beyond the treeline and into the glaciers. The mother likes the green meadows and woodlands towards the base, where she can explore the plants, the streams at a leisurely pace. The boy enjoys the parts in between….but his father expects more.  Spoiler alert – outdoorsy inter-generational conflict ahead! 

In time, the boy meets a mountain friend who shows him yet another way to approach the mountains and life.

The Eight Mountains is a best-seller in Italy, has won several awards and been published in at least 38 countries. I credit the mountains. To me, they are the dominant character and hero in this story, providing tension, relief and contrast to the four people who often struggle to come together.

I loved the way Cognetti gave substance to each character via his/her climbing style and the passage of time through seasons and landscapes.  At times the writing was a little obvious and florid, but the twists and flaws later in the story kept me on my toes.

I often dream of a holiday house at the beach or in the country but since reading The Eight Mountains, I am adding a cabin in the Italian Alps to the list. Maybe I can stock it with books to read and send everyone else out climbing.  Minimum two day round trip.

And that’s my 2 cents worth.