The Great Fire

The Great Fire

Book - 2004
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More than twenty years after the classic The Transit of Venus , Shirley Hazzard returns to fiction with a novel that in the words of Ann Patchett "is brilliant and dazzling..."

The Great Fire is an extraordinary love story set in the immediate aftermath of the great conflagration of the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.

In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia's coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity. The Great Fire is a story of love in the aftermath of war by "purely and simply, one of the greatest writers working in English today." (Michael Cunningham)

The Great Fire is the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.

Publisher: New York : Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004
Edition: 1st Picador ed
ISBN: 9780312423582
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 326 p. ; 21 cm


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Apr 01, 2015

Awful. I vow to never again check out a book that has won a prestigious literary award.

Feb 04, 2014

Although this book has some very engaging & well-written passages, I wasn't satisfied with the 1st 100 +/- pages and the last 60 or so pages. The author introduces a dozen or so characters in the first (roughly) 60 pages & if you don't read past that in one sitting, you'll probably be lost as I was. Other annoyances were: sappy metaphors ("The morning touched her hair".); perplexing statements ("Clarity departed like hallucination."); & lots of sentence fragments. The heart of the plot is a love story. After page 258 when I wanted see how the plot would be resolved, I was introduced to 14 new characters, which didn't add much to the story.

May 14, 2012

After the first few chapters, I was about to give myself the exceedingly rare permission to stop reading a book. The exceedingly annoying clipped sentences and cut down prose were not roses trimmed judiciously to showcase their elegance, they were a flower garden randomly hacked apart by a wayward whipper-snipper. I struggled to find meaning in the wreckage, and then somewhere in an hour’s enforced reading while waiting in a doctor’s office, a love story blossomed and then not even the author’s rusty blade could diminish its beauty.

After starting out as close as I’ve ever come to putting a book down, The Great Fire eventually became one I didn’t want to put down.

Feb 21, 2011

This week, I read two of Shirley Hazzard's novels, this one, as well as The Transit of Venus.

Beautiful descriptions, interesting and well-drawn characters in both novels. A very strong sense of place (or places) and atmosphere. I guess that I am one of her enthusiasts. It seems as though people either love her work or are bored by it.

Dec 06, 2010

2003 National Book Award - Fiction

Aug 15, 2008

I guess I just don't like this author. I found the book forgetable and couldn't understand why it won the prize. Disappointing.


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