It is the blazing summer of 1981, and Catherine is laid low by childhood illness. Stuck inside her family's Victorian mansion at the foot of a Highland mountain, she can only look down into the garden and observe the goings-on upon the lawn. Sam and Rosa, her elder teenage cousins, have come to spend the school holiday in this idyllic setting.
It is the blazing summer of 1981 and Catherine is laid low by childhood illness. Stuck inside her family's sprawling Victorian mansion at the foot of a Highland mountain, she can only look down into the garden and observe the goings-on upon the lawn. Sam and Rosa, her elder teenage cousins, have come to spend the school holiday in this seemingly idyllic setting, and Catherine savours the brief visits Sam makes to her room. But when Rosa falls in love with Humberto, a young Spanish man camping in the grounds of the house, and Catherine witnesses a violent attack on Sam's beloved dog, the events of that summer take on a darker hue. While Catherine's parents are forced to confront the inner workings of their marriage, she herself begins her fight for a life void of any more responsibility or surprises. In this twisting tale, the truth is a kaleidoscope of fractured understandings which crystallise over the course of that fateful summer, the consequences of which will reverberate throughout everyone's lives, reaching their final resolution in the summer of 2008 as a much older and wiser Catherine sits on an Edinburgh doorstep waiting for Rosa to arrive. Under the Mountain is a fiercely intelligent and beautifully written novel about domestic politics and first loves, and in an unforgettable narrative that is both moving and haunting, Sophie Cooke powerfully exposes hidden inner lives and reveals the sometimes devastating consequences of love and the lies it can tell. This is a remarkable and thought-provoking book, which poses many questions about the way we engage with the world in all its violence and beauty.
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Sophie Cooke began her writing career in 2000, aged 23, when she wrote the short story Why You Should Not Put Your Hand Through The Ice. Her story won runner-up prize in the MacAllan / Scotland on Sunday Short Story Competition, which was then the biggest short story award in Europe. The prize money enabled Cooke to cut back her hours as a barmaid on Glasgow's Great Western Road and write more short stories, which appeared in anthologies. Her first novel, The Glass House, was published to critical acclaim in 2004 and shortlisted for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award. Under the Mountain, her new novel, likewise takes the Scottish Highlands as its setting: the country house in which it is set is based on the house in which Cooke lived as a small child. Cooke was educated mainly at McLaren High School in Callander, with brief spells at boarding schools on scholarships. She studied social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Cooke now lives in Berlin, where she is working on her third novel. She also writes poetry and continues to produce short stories.
Under the Mountain by Sophie Cooke
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