Excerpt // In Sight of the Mountain by Jamie McGillen

In Sight of the Mountain Book Cover In Sight of the Mountain
Jamie McGillen | Narrator: Sarah Brands
Historical Fiction
The Evergreen Bookshelf | 2020
April 24, 2020
9 hrs. 34 mins.
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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 identity 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.

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Top 10 Food Moments

The following is a list of my favorite food moments in the book, along with my comments. Enjoy!

1. Chocolate Crinkles 

“Peppermint hot cocoa is finished!” she chimed. “And chocolate crinkles too. I just dusted them with powdered sugar” (153).

Peppermint hot chocolate and my mom’s chocolate crinkle cookies are my favorite foods of Christmas, so I really wanted to include them in my first Christmas scene!

2. Salmon with Hollandaise

“Not only did the salmon with hollandaise come on the fanciest glass plates Anna had ever seen, it also melted in her mouth” (148). 

This meal is shared with Anna’s friend Emily and her husband (with a guest suitor) and it’s quite the treat compared with what she had been eating over the winter. 

3. The Jar of Jam

“I broke a jar of jam, lassie. Go back upstairs—don’t want you stepping on broken glass in the dark” (108).

This is said by Anna’s grandfather Oscar. I can’t say anymore without spoilers!

4. Blueberries from the Market

“Her mouth watered as she browsed the stands, making her long for better days. Luckily, Ben bought blueberries, which he shared on the walk back” (99). 

The Gallaghers have a difficult winter when it comes to food, so anything fresh that they didn’t grow or make themselves is a small luxury.

5. Halibut from Alaska

“Her grandfather brought a new wine from the cellar, and Greta roasted halibut and potatoes for dinner” (322).

Anna’s brother Levi goes halibut fishing every spring and always brings back a feast for days. My dad used to go halibut fishing in Alaska, and I remember eating deep fried halibut with ketchup when I was little. 

6. All the Apples

“He cleared his throat and nodded before pulling a chair up to the table and grabbing an apple to peel. “Gosh, applesauce simmering on the stove, a pie in the oven, winter pies and sauces coming. I’m a lucky old man” (113). 

The Gallaghers have a few apple trees so they attempt to keep as many apples as possible through canning, baking, preserving, etc.

7. Lussekatts with Saffron

“Have you ever had lussekatts?” Greta asked. “It’s a Swedish pastry in the shape of an ‘S’ with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg…and saffron!” (165). 

I’ve never had the pleasure of trying this pastry, but I kind of want to try and bake it now!

8. Wild Berries

“By the first week of September, they’d collected twenty buckets of wild blackberries and three buckets of the last of the raspberries. All over the house, berries hung from the ceiling to dry in mosquito nets; they planned to make jam next” (102). 

Preserving berries wasn’t something Anna had always done, but Greta taught her how. 

9. Fishing for Salmon with the Duwamish

“Salmon souls never die. It’s important to treat each one with respect, because each year they return in new bodies, to feed us.” Heather peered wistfully upriver. “If we don’t treat them with dignity, they won’t return” (257). 

Anna really enjoys learning about Duwamish traditions from her friend Heather!

10. Belgian Chocolate in the Woods

“To celebrate her success, she and Ben plopped down again against the log. Then, to her surprise, Ben pulled out a chocolate bar. ‘It’s from Belgium, and I’ll only share if you fully appreciate the luxuriousness’” (128). 

Luckily, they didn’t have to share with her brother Levi—he hates chocolate… (weirdo)!

Author Jamie McGillen

Jamie McGillen lives in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and no matter how many times she moves away, it draws her home. Everything about large evergreen trees delights her, except how poky they are, and the sap. Her poems and essays have been published in numerous literary journals, and she teaches English Composition at Highline College. When she’s not teaching or cutting strawberries for her starving children, she enjoys writing rhyming poetry, but it’s simply not as popular as it used to be. You can find out more about her at www.jamiemcgillen.com.

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Narrator Sarah Brands

Sarah’s mid-range voice is warm, relatable, and fresh and is well-suited for YA, memoirs, and self-help genres while she remains versatile and open.  She is professionally trained in audiobook narration and is always adding new skills to her repertoire with coaching and self-guided study. She is an actor with a general American accent and a quick study when it comes to new accents. She has lived in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Washington, New York, and Virginia near Washington, D.C. Her background includes literacy specialist, marketing, sales, and professional learning facilitator. Fun fact: She once held a forklift driver’s license!

As an avid consumer of audiobooks, she is a frequent study of the craft and understands the importance of a good narrator.

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