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The Great Fire

Hazzard, Shirley (Book - 2003)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Great Fire
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A great writer's sweeping story of men and women struggling to reclaim their lives in the aftermath of world conflict The Great Fire is Shirley Hazzard's first novel since The Transit of Venus , which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1981. The conflagration of her title is 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, Aldred Leith, a brave and brilliant soldier, finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. Helen Driscoll, 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 the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.
Authors: Hazzard, Shirley, 1931-
Title: The great fire
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 278 p. ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Shirley Hazzard
ISBN: 0374166447
Branch Call Number: FICTION HAZZARD
Subject Headings: Japan Fiction England Fiction Hong Kong (China) Fiction Reconstruction (1939-1951) Fiction World War, 1939-1945 Influence Fiction
Genre/Form: Historical fiction
Psychological fiction
Topical Term: Reconstruction (1939-1951)
World War, 1939-1945
LCCN: 2003049189
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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. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not ... Read More »

In the aftermath of a disaster as staggering as WWII - the Great Fire refers to the bombing of Hiroshima - how do people rebuild, not just their cities, but their hope and trust? Two memorable main characters, and a vast, beautifully-rendered East Asian canvas, earned this book the 2003 National... Read More »


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Feb 04, 2014
  • sess430 rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

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
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

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.

Apr 12, 2011
  • GrumpyDave rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

2003 National Book Award - Fiction

Feb 21, 2011
  • Camille25 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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.

Aug 15, 2008
  • jbeckber rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

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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app02 Version Arkelstorp Last updated 2014/10/23 09:41