In the devastating aftermath of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire, 19-year-old Anna Gallagher faces considerable pressure to marry well and soon. But she has no intention of giving up her freedom to keep house. She wants to be the first woman to summit Mount Rainier.
Anna's grandfather couldn't disapprove more. And after he discovers that she's befriended a Duwamish woman in the forest, he threatens to disown her completely.
Still, her resolve to summit doesn't waver until she meets a fisherman who seems to love adventure as much as she does. He's not the kind of high society gentleman who could save their family's finances after the fire, but he adores her and treats her like an equal.
Mountaineering through glaciers, avalanches, and frozen temperatures might cause Anna's family to disown her forever. It might even ruin any future marriage prospects. But if she succeeds in reaching the icy peak, she could pioneer the way for women mountaineers, and create a new identify for herself, something she's been longing for her whole life.
Inspired by the trailblazing women of the 19th century who dared to summit Mount Rainier, In Sight of the Mountain is a charming coming-of-age story, but it also casts the reader's gaze upon issues of colonialism, class, and women's far-too-narrow options.
Plot: This inviting, American West-set historical novel follows the divergent path taken by 19-year-old Anna Gallagher. Though the work is at times lacking in tension, McGillen writes with knowledge and authority of the late 19th-century era, allowing readers to become immersed in the narrative about liberation, romance, and adventure.
Prose: McGillen’s writing is polished, unfussy, and engaging. The author's affection for and familiarity with the Pacific Northwest and its striking landscapes is apparent throughout the vivid descriptions.
Originality: The historical setting provides an original backdrop for Anna's coming-of-age. Nineteenth-century society and its prejudices are well conceived and provide refreshing verisimilitude.
Character/Execution: Though a degree of moral complexity, Anna is a kind, resourceful, and formidable heroine. The novel is populated by a broad array of side characters that serve to enrich the historical moment, while Anna's love interest is a clear catch.
Date Submitted: August 21, 2020
"Anna's struggle to find her place in a society that wants to constrain her within appropriate gender roles is enhanced by the author's attention to details--of fashion, culture, and even mountain climbing. An engaging escapade with a feisty female lead." - Kirkus Reviews
"Searching for purpose and adventure, Anna will win your heart over and then some. Filled with lessons of strength, perseverance, and audacity, In Sight of the Mountain is a beautifully written story. A must-read for those who are striving to fulfill their dreams." - Kristi Elizabeth, Seattle Book Review