In Sight of the Mountain

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
362 Pages
Reviewed on 09/13/2019
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Author Biography

Jamie McGillen lives in the Pacific Northwest.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

In Sight of the Mountain is a work of historical fiction set in the late nineteenth century, and it was penned by author Jamie McGillen. Focusing on themes of the liberation of women, the American class system and effects of colonialism, this intelligent and heart-warming novel introduces us to Anna Gallagher at the tender age of nineteen. Time is ticking for this young woman to marry and secure a future for herself, and Anna is not without some options, but her real passion lies at the peak of Mount Rainier. Aiming to be a pioneer for women mountaineers everywhere, Anna pursues her dream in secret, until the day she must risk it all to show the world that she is more than just someone’s bride to be.

In an epic and gripping work of historical fiction with modern sensibilities, author Jamie McGillen gives you everything you could possibly hope for in this inspiring and dramatic tale. Anna is a thoroughly well-developed heroine, not a modern woman thrown into history, but appropriately forward-thinking and authentically brave for her time. The descriptions of the people and attitudes which she faces really convey the class structure and hierarchies of money and gender extremely well, giving a sense of the many cages she must break out of to reach Rainier’s summit. And despite the independent vibe of the tale, there is indeed romance, intelligently and realistically portrayed. Overall, In Sight of the Mountain is the perfect historical read for fans of pioneering heroes and tales of triumph over discrimination.

Heather Stockard

Anna Gallagher has lived in the shadow of Mount Ranier since she was a child, and her goal is to be the first woman to reach its summit. Unfortunately, supplies and train tickets cost money that she doesn’t have, and asking her grandfather is out of the question. He wants to see her married and settled down. At nineteen years old, Anna knows her own mind, however, and she isn’t about to give up her independence and her dreams of seeing the world to become a housewife. But then she meets her brother’s handsome friend, Ben. They bond over a shared love of adventure, and a mysterious riddle that might be Anna’s ticket to Mount Ranier. In the process, they discover something even more important: each other. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and the disapproval of Anna’s family threatens both their romance and Anna’s dreams of the mountain.

In Sight of the Mountain, by Washington author Jamie McGillen, is a well-written historical romance novel with elements of adventure. McGillen has woven a tale of love and determination set in beautiful Washington. She’s created great characters that come off as realistic in their strengths and flaws. The heroine, Anna, is a girl ahead of her time, headstrong and full of enthusiasm for adventure. She’s also kind and compassionate. McGillen’s descriptions are simple and effective and really set the scenes. Her love for Washington and Mt. Ranier really shines through. This is a sweet, summer romance for readers of all ages.

Donna Gielow McFarland

In Sight of the Mountain by Jamie McGillen is a 19th-century historical novel. After her parents passed away, Anna Gallagher moved from Ireland to Seattle with her brother and grandfather. Now at age 20, Anna has a pleasant life working in her grandfather’s Seattle bookstore and socializing with her two best friends (unfortunately estranged from each other ever since one married and the other became a prostitute). Anna finds herself trying to navigate family and societal expectations for who she should marry. She isn’t content to become a high society wife. She has dreams, and what she wants more than anything else is to climb to the summit of Mount Rainier, which has been done by 1890 but not by a woman. Anna plans to pay for her trip with the dubious project of finding the ring described in a romantic riddle in an old book given to her by an unlikely friend. She judges her multiple suitors by their reaction to her plans, or at least the part of her plans she chooses to reveal. It doesn’t go well.

I loved In Sight of the Mountain! Jamie McGillen’s writing is so smooth that it’s barely noticeable and the story shines unobstructed. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I found it entertaining to try to picture Seattle as a frontier town and see Mount Rainier without its modern trappings. The story begins with the 1889 Seattle fire (a true event) and I was immediately hooked. The expectations placed on 19th-century young women feel completely out of place in the 21st century and it’s a good reminder of how far we have come. The romantic elements of the story are light and totally clean since Anna was expected to have a chaperone wherever she went. There are multiple subplots running through the book including a puzzle to work out and subplots about the Duwamish people and the discrimination they experienced. In all, In Sight of the Mountain is a really great read -- compelling, educational, containing complex characters and a well-crafted plot. Recommended for all readers YA and up who enjoy historical fiction. I'd give it more than 5 stars if I could.