The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us

by Charles Martin


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Now a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba

From the author of Where the River Ends, comes this page-turning story of love and survival.

On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport.  Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding.  Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day.   When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection.   And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently.   And then the unthinkable happens.  The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness— one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. 
Ben, who has broken ribs and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot's dog, are faced with an incredibly harrowing battle to survive.   Fortunately, Ben is a medical professional and avid climber (and in a lucky break, has his gear from a climb earlier in the week).  With little hope for rescue, he must nurse Ashley back to health and figure out how they are going to get off the mountain, where the temperature hovers in the teens.   Meanwhile, Ashley soon realizes that the very private Ben has some serious emotional wounds to heal as well.  He explains to Ashley that he is separated from his beloved wife, but in a long standing tradition, he faithfully records messages for her on his voice recorder reflecting on their love affair.  As Ashley eavesdrops on Ben's tender words to his estranged wife she comes to fear that when it comes to her own love story, she's just settling.  And what's more: she begins to realize that the man she is really attracted to, the man she may love, is Ben.
As the days on the mountains become weeks, their survival become increasingly perilous.  How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever?
Both a tender and page-turning read, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767927024
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 06/28/2011
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 70,548
Product dimensions: 7.76(w) x 5.26(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Charles Martin is a New York Times bestselling author of eleven previous novels. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and their three sons.

Read an Excerpt

            I’m not sure what time it is.  This thing should record that.  I woke a few minutes ago.  It’s still dark.  I don’t know how long I was out.
            The snow is spilling in through the windshield. It’s frozen across my face.  Hard to blink.  Feels like dried paint on my cheeks.  It just doesn’t taste like dried paint.  
            I’m shivering…and it feels like somebody is sitting on my chest.  Can’t catch my breath. Maybe broke two or three ribs.  Might have a collapsed lung.
            The wind up here is steady, leaning against the tail of the fuselage…or what’s left of it.  Something above me, maybe a branch, is slapping the plexi-glass.  Sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard.  And more cold air is coming in behind me.  Where the tail used to be.  
            I can smell gas.  I guess both wings were still pretty full of fuel. 
            I keep feeling like I want to throw up. 
            A hand is wrapped around mine. The fingers are cold and calloused.  There’s a wedding band, worn thin around the edges.  That’s Grover.
            He was dead before we hit the treetops.  I’ll never understand how he landed this thing without killing me, too.
            When we took off, the ground temperature was in the single digits.  Not sure what it is now.  Feels colder.  Our elevation should be around eleven-five.  Give or take.  We couldn’t have fallen more than five hundred feet when Grover dipped the wing.  The control panel sits dark, unlit.  Dusted in white.  Every few minutes the GPS on the dash will flicker, then go black again.     
            There was a dog here somewhere.  All teeth and muscle.  Real short hair.  About the size of a loaf of bread.  Makes snotty, gurgling sounds when he breathes.  Looks like he’s jacked up on speed.  Wait… 
            ‘Hey, boy…Wait…no.  Not there. Okay, lick but don’t jump.  What’s your name?  You scared?  Yeah…me, too.’
            I can’t remember his name.
            I’m back…was I gone long?  There’s a dog here.  Buried between my coat and armpit.
            Did I already tell you about him?  I can’t remember his name. 
            He’s shivering and the wrinkles around his eyes are quivering.  Whenever the wind howls, he jumps up and growls at it.
            The memory’s foggy.  Grover and I were talking, he was flying, maybe banking right, the dash flashed a buffet of blue and green lights, a carpet of black stretched out below us, not a light bulb for sixty miles in any direction, and…there was a woman.  Trying to get home to her fiancé and a rehearsal dinner.  I’ll look. 
            …I found her.  Unconscious. Elevated pulse.  Eyes are swollen shut.  Pupils are dilated.  Probably a concussion. Several lacerations across her face.  A few will need stitches.  Right shoulder is dislocated and left femur is broken.  It didn’t break the skin but, her leg is angling out and suit leg is tight.  I need to set it…once I catch my breath. 
            …It’s getting colder. I guess the storm finally caught us.  If I don’t get us wrapped in something…we’ll freeze to death before daylight.  I’ll have to set that leg in the morning.    
            Rachel…I don’t know how much time we have, don’t know if we’ll make it out, if…but…I take it all back.  I was wrong.  I was angry.  I never should’ve said it.  You were thinking about us.  Not you.  I can see that now. 
            You’re right.  Right all along.  There’s always a chance. 

Reading Group Guide

About This Guide...

A letter from the author:
Dear Reader,
I’m a fifth-generation Florida boy.   Born and raised.   I’m used to heat and sunshine.   Put me in the snow and I turn into a total wimp.   About a year ago, I was sitting in a plane at thirty-five thousand feet flying to Oregon, looked down upon Utah’s snow-covered mountains—not a lightbulb in sight—and wondered, “What if …”   By the time the plane landed, I’d scratched the following:
What if a plane crashed into that mess?
What if it was a small plane carrying two total strangers?
What if he was happily married, headed home to his wife?
What if she was headed home to her rehearsal dinner and a white dress?
What if they were hurt?
And what if they could expect no rescue?
Months later, two friends and I traveled to the High Uintas Mountains—a wilderness spanning more than a million acres.   If you ever saw Jeremiah Johnson, that’s where they filmed it.   Average snowfall is 500 to 700 inches a year.   Sometimes more. To me, it’s more Mars than Earth.

We rented snowmobiles and rode some sixty miles into the middle of that beautiful, magnificent, unforgiving landscape.   The second night, at about two a.m., I lay staring up at a star-lit sky, thinking about my two characters.   In the dark, my fingers cold, my breath blowing like smoke, the snow just beginning to fall, our fire reduced to glowing red embers, I scratched the last question:
What if things are not what they seem?
The Mountain Between Us is the story of an orthopedic surgeon from Jacksonville headed home after a medical conference.   Waiting at the gate in the Salt Lake City aAirport, he meets a journalist from Atlanta making her way home to her six bride’s maids and a rehearsal dinner.   Like everyone else in the airport, they are trying to outrun the storm that is inching ever closer.   When the de-icer breaks, effectively killing their chances of beating the storm, they hire a charter to hop them to Denver.   Standing in their way, rising some twelve thousand feet above sea level, are the High Uintas.

On the surface it’s a story of survival—of impossible circumstances—and the man and woman who face it.   Beneath that, it’s a story of laughter, hope, brokenness, friendship, and a tender love risked by few and shared by even less.
I hope you enjoy it.

My best to you,

For more information about this and Charles Martin’s other novels, visit

Share your thoughts on this book on Charles’s Facebook page:

The following discussion topics and author interviewletter are designed to enhance your reading of Charles Martin’s The Mountain Between Us. We hope they will enrich your experience as you explore this captivating novel of extraordinary love.

Questions and Answers...

1. The Mountain Between Us is an adventure story, a story of survivial, but and above all a love story.   By the end of the novel, what do we learn about the author’s views of love?    Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?    What do Ben and Ashley learn from the pilot, Grover, about the nature of enduring love?    Is that a lesson that stays with them throughout the book?    In your experience, does marriage get better?    What makes a great marriage?

2. After the crash, Ben and Ashley are stranded at 11,500 feet, fifty miles from any kind of civilization with no hope of rescue, she with a broken leg, he with three busted ribs and a possible collapsed lung, and minimal supplies … yet they survived for more than four weeks in these extreme conditions.    What skills and character traits do you think helped ensure their survival? Did you find the story credible?

3. Was Ben to blame at any point for what happened?    Should he have hired the charter plane to take them out in the coming storm? During their time on the mountain, what choices did Ben make? Do you believe he made the right choices?   What would you have done in his place?

4. We learn about Ben’s wife mostly through the recordings she made on Ben’s dDictaphone. Is she a strong presence in the book? What kind of person was she? What made her so special to Ben?

5. Ben refers to himself as “a bit of an emotional blockhead” (page 119).   Why do you think he finds it so difficult to come to terms with his “separation” from his wife, Rachel? What part did his childhood experiences play in his emotional development?

6. In the most difficult times on the mountain, when Ashley and Ben are losing hope of survival, how do they keep themselves going? What was the most difficult part of their ordeal? If you were in their position, what would you have done? Do you think you would have made it back home alive?

7. How does Ben and Ashley’s time in isolation on the mountain change their perspective on life? Does it make them see any more clearly? Are their lives irrevocably changed by the experience? In what ways?

8. Were you surprised by the revelation about Ben’s family life at the end of the book? How did the discovery make you feel? Looking back through the book, haddid the author layid any clues for the reader along the way?

9. 9)Ben uses his Dictaphone to communicate with his wife.   What do you learn about Rachel from his recordings? Do you think this technique works as a narrative device? What does it wsay about the way we communicate with our loved ones today? Why did Ben throw the dDictaphone into the ocean at the end of the book?

10. What is the significance of the title?   What is “the mountain between us”?

11. In the author’s note, Charles references one of the most beautiful Bible verses:   I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come …   What part does religious faith play in this novel? Do you think the author’s own optimism is derived from his faith in God?

Customer Reviews

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The Mountain Between Us: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 215 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Saw the movie preview and decided to read the book first. By far the best $10 I have spent in a long time!!!! Outstanding. It shows what the human spirit and determination to survive is all about. Highly recommend!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
End was so unexpected!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What can I say about this book except, READ it!! It is the best and you will be glad and teary eyed that you did. This was the first for me with this author and you can bet it won't be the last - on to another!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first book from this author. I most surely will read several more of them. It was a sad story, but at the same an inspiring story of human survival and a human's will to live. I read this book in one sitting - it's that good.
susanc1249 More than 1 year ago
I have read all previous Charles Martin books and loved this one just as much, if not more, It is so nice to find an author who writes heartwarming, sometimes sad stories without the violence and profanity that is so prevalent in books today, Well done Mr. Martin!
PumpkinKV More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best I have read in a LONG time! This author takes you on this journey and you feel as if you are there with the characters. The research he did for this book is remarkable. At the end of the story I just cried for all concerned. What a lovely book to read. You HAVE to turn the page to see what happens. This author is now on my favorite author list. I will keep an eye on new books of his to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story of survival was very well written and kept me interested in how they were going to make it. This would be an enjoyable "beach" read for the summer.
LikesToReadEA More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I understand why it was so highly recommended. The characters are totally believable, the situation that they find themselves in is intriguing and suspenseful. I don't think you can go wrong by choosing this book. I can't wait until this one is made into a movie. Thank you very much, Mr. Martin, for an excellent story. I know that you won't be disappointed if you choose to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read anything this great all year.
jam27 More than 1 year ago
Definitely a page turner with an amazing ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the way Charles Martin spins a story. He draws me into his world with rich descriptions and deep characters. It is a story of survival in nature, but also about love and forgiveness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the BEST books I've read in a long, long time. I have completely fell in love with all of Charles Martin's books. He takes you in to each and every action along with all the feelings that go with it. The love is deep beyond measure and while in this book you will feel it all. This is one book you will not want to lay down. I'm so thankful to my friend for recommending Charles Martin's books to me. llkph Columbia, TN
Jo-T More than 1 year ago
"The Mountain Between Us" touched my heart. The main characters have both emotional issues and tough physical conditions to deal with and do so with a strength of character and innate goodness. I loved the story-within-a-story. It shows that hope and love can conquer anything. I was so impressed and emotionally touched by this book that I've given it as a gift many times and highly recommend it. I recommended this for our book club discussions. I got hooked on Charles Martin's writing after reading "Chasing Fireflies" for our book club (which I also highly recommend along with "Wrapped in Rain"). Charles Martin is a fabulous writer - I have all of his books and recommend them to everyone. His books deal with tough issues and life situations with truth and humor and he shows that with faith, hope and love, most things can be conquered. I also recommend Charles Martin's latest book "Thunder and Rain."
silvercricket More than 1 year ago
I am normally a voracious reader but haven't picked up a book in a while. I am job hunting so that pretty much consumes all my waking hours. Thank goodness though I picked up this book and began reading. It gave me the opportunity to escape from the trials and tribulations of my day. And escape I did to the snowy, cold 1.3 million acres of Utah's national park wilderness. A great read but I have to say, I was blown away by the ending. I never saw it coming. I have read one other book of Charles Martin's, "Where the River Ends". It too was a love story set in nature. I plan on reading all of his books starting with his latest "Thunder and Rain".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Usually I enjoy DeMille, Baldacci, Child, Coben,and even some end of the world type books such as "One Second After". I read this 'category' for a change - to go to a place where I feel involved. Charles Martin is a new discovery, and a wonderful one. He writes as well as Sparks, who I also enjoy. I am on the road to reading all his previous books and if I enjoy them half as much as this that will still be good! Grab it, sink into a chair, and prepare for a wonderful journey.
CafeLily More than 1 year ago
Charles Martin's newest release, The Mountain Between Us, takes readers on a riveting, emotional journey as they follow the story of two strangers who are united in the fight for survival when their chartered plane crashes. Both Ashley and Ben are committed professionals trying to get home to their families. Ashley, a writer from Atlanta, is just days away from her wedding. Ben, a successful orthopedic surgeon, is anxious to return home to his wife and children in Florida. When their commercial flight is cancelled due to perilous weather, Ben decides to charter a private plane. At the last minute, in an attempt to get Ashley home in time for her wedding, Ben makes Ashley an offer she can't refuse - a seat on his private flight. Even though the plane isn't technically large enough for two passengers, they decide to make it work and head out into the treacherous weather. Grover, their grizzled maverick pilot, has years of experience and over 20,000 hours of flight time. He is confident he can beat the storm and plans to fly "low and slow". Because of the low flight altitude, Grover is not required to file a flight plan. Not long into the turbulent flight, Grover has a heart attack and the plane crashes in the High Uintas Wilderness. As the passengers come to, Ben, Ashley and Grover's dog Tank, are the only crash survivors. With life threatening injuries and deadly freezing temperatures, Ben and Ashley find themselves facing a seemingly hopeless situation with challenges they aren't sure they can overcome. Using his wilderness survival skills in combination with his medical knowledge, Ben manages to set Ashley's broken leg and get them through the night, even though he is badly injured himself. As one day overlaps the next, Ben faces the grim task of giving Grover a proper burial, foraging for food and trying to stay warm all while the realization that they may never be rescued settles in. I found myself reading long after my eyes were tired to see what would happen next. This story is full of suspense and adventure! Each time I thought I knew what was going to happen, the author managed to surprise me and keep me turning pages faster and faster! This story also builds a deep emotional anticipation as Ben's longing for his wife and children play out. He's a man who has made some mistakes and wishes more than anything he could go back and erase them. Ashley learns just how deeply Ben loves his wife as she overhears messages which he records into a handheld recorder. His commitment and love for his wife cause Ashley to question her marriage plans. Is she marrying the right man? Is she settling because she's tired of waiting for her soul mate who may not even exist? Although I started this book thinking it was going to be predictable, I must say that Martin succeeded in surprising me, which made it well worth reading. Charles Martin is a gifted writer who commands his reader's attention from the very first page and then keeps the momentum going as the story builds. As a fan of Charles Martin's books, I highly recommend him. Those who read and enjoy Nicholas Sparks most assuredly will see many similarities in the writing styles of Sparks and Martin - sometimes eerily similar!
GraceinJax More than 1 year ago
I rate Charles Martin among the greatest Southern writers of fiction ever. I cannot recommend his books highly enough, and with these last two books (including The Mountain Between Us) he has outdone himself. If you are looking for a meaningful, clean, encouraging, uplifting but intelligent summer read, this is it!!! And if you haven't read his other books, you absolutely MUST!!!!
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NanceeMarchinowski 7 months ago
Charles Martin changed the course of the lives of two people in this edge-of-your-seat novel! Survival is the name of the game, and the challenges are harrowing. There is nothing predictable about this story of relationships and the quest to survive in the worst possible situations. Two people learn how to encourage one another as they fight for their very lives after their plane crashes in the middle of a mountain range. Both Ben and Ashley learn much about themselves as they brave the storms of life in no man's land. This is a fantastic read!
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