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The Great Fire
by SHIRLEY HAZZARD | Literature & Fiction
Registered by goatgrrl of New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by jenvince): travelling


This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!

7 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Tuesday, August 17, 2004

This book has not been rated.

I splurged on this at Costco today - $12.50 (about $10 more than I usually pay for softcover books!). I hope to get to it soon. 


Journal Entry 2 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Tuesday, September 07, 2004

This book has not been rated.

The Great Fire begins with a train journey across Japan in 1947. Thirty-two year old Aldred Leith, son of acclaimed novelist Oliver Leith, is travelling from Tokyo to the island of Ita Jima, his destination the city of Kure, near Hiroshima. The world is still reeling in the aftermath of WWII, and Leith, a decorated war hero, is now engaged in the study of war and its effects on ancient cultures -- including those of China and Japan ("the consequences of war within an ancient and vanishing society"). The odour of cinders -- literally and metaphorically -- pervades the first pages of the book.

In Kure, Aldred is immediately introduced to an Australian soldier by the name of Brian Talbot (a member of the occupying forces), Professor "Ginger" Gardiner (an academic connection) and Helen and Benedict Driscoll, the charming son and daughter of Brigadier Barry Driscoll and his odious wife, Melba, with whom he is billeted. However for the first half of the book, Aldred -- and everyone else, for that matter -- seems to wander aimlessly in a kind of post-bellum shock, and the story takes some time to come into focus.

From the reader's point of view, therefore, The Great Fire is -- at least to the mid point of the novel -- an oddly disorienting read. A large cast of interesting characters is introduced (Aldred's father, his mistress Aurora Searle, Professor Gardiner, Talbot, the Driscolls, Thaddeus Hill, Peter Exley, Roy Rysom and Audrey Fellowes, to name only a few), but the reader can't get a fix on what they're supposed to be doing, nor on what this book is actually about. As much as we can discern is neatly encapsulated in a line at p. 158: "men go to pieces differently in peacetime, outside their borders."

In the second half of the book, several storylines come into sharper focus. Leith's attraction for seventeen year old Helen Driscoll (daughter of the Brigadier with whom he is billeted) blossoms into a full-blown affair, Helen's brother Benedict Driscoll's illness becomes more acute and tragedy befalls another significant character. Books and literature remain an important and recurring theme (twice we hear of characters becoming acquainted when they encounter another reading the same book), as does the smoking ruin of Hiroshima -- and fire and cinders more generally.

The Great Fire won the 2003 National Book Award (USA), was shortlisted for the 2004 Orange Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. You can read the Guardian's review of this book here, the Independent's here, the Sydney Morning Herald's here and the Economist's here.

SPOILER ALERT: I loved how the recurring motif of fire was turned neatly on its head at the end of the novel, in one of the most evocative -- because understated -- love scenes I've ever read. It took my breath away ... 


Journal Entry 3 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Thursday, September 09, 2004

This book has not been rated.

CANADA/USA 2004 BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST BOOKRAY

Rules of this bookray:

  1. This is a Canada/USA-only bookray, in order to keep the book moving while it's still current.
  2. Please journal the book when you receive it, and again when you mail it out -- that way, everyone will know the book's approximate location.
  3. If you don't think you'll be able to read this book within six weeks of receipt, please let me know before it's sent to you by the previous reader, and I'll be happy to move your name down the list.
  4. Several people are waiting eagerly to read this book. Whether you have read the book or not, please do not keep it longer than six weeks. Thanks!
Participants:
1. tuff517 - McQueeney, Texas, USA - rec'd September 23, 04; mailed October 7, 04.
2. Lorelei03 - Farmingdale, New York, USA - rec'd October 12, 04; mailed November 04.
3. Lizanne - Madison, New Jersey, USA - rec'd December 8, 04.
4. may-eve - Portland, Oregon, USA - rec'd March 22, 05.
5. yourotherleft - Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA - rec'd May 1, 05; mailed August 8, 05.
6. jenvince - Sherman Oaks, California, USA - rec'd August 20, 05


Journal Entry 4 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Sunday, September 19, 2004

This book has not been rated.

I'll be mailing this book to tuff517 in McQueeney, Texas tomorrow (September 20, 04). Best wishes from New Westminster, British Columbia! (At left: the Fraser River, as seen from the top of my street.) 


Journal Entry 5 by tuff517 from Elk Grove Village, Illinois USA on Thursday, September 23, 2004

This book has not been rated.

Well, I just got this today. I'm currently reading 2 books for bookrings, but I WILL DEFINITELY begin this no later than Saturday morning and will have it out by the 3 week max time limit. Thanks goatgrrl for another great bookring! 


Journal Entry 6 by tuff517 from Elk Grove Village, Illinois USA on Tuesday, October 05, 2004

8 out of 10

This was a hard book for me to read. The way it was written made it seem like I was distant from the characters, but before I knew it I had developed quite an attachment to each of them and could not wait to see what the future held for Aldred and Helen; Peter, Rita, and the rest. Instead of being guided emotionally by the words I formed my own emotions regarding the situations the characters were in. It is a love story, but one that is camouflaged by war and tragedy. I will send this on when I get the address of the next participant. 


Journal Entry 7 by tuff517 from Elk Grove Village, Illinois USA on Thursday, October 07, 2004

This book has not been rated.

Heading to Lorelei03!
Delivery confirmation: 0300 1290 0004 4743 4470 


Journal Entry 8 by Lorelei03 from Flushing, New York USA on Thursday, October 21, 2004

This book has not been rated.

Rcvd - thanks tuff517! Looking forward to reading this one.

Sent on in early November. 


Journal Entry 9 by Lizanne from Madison, New Jersey USA on Thursday, December 09, 2004

This book has not been rated.

Thanks---one ring to complete first and hope to get to this during this busy season. I hadn't realized the many different prizes this had won! 


Journal Entry 10 by may-eve from Portland, Oregon USA on Wednesday, March 23, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Got this in the mail the other day, and will read soon. 


Journal Entry 11 by yourotherleft from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania USA on Sunday, May 01, 2005

This book has not been rated.

This arrived safely. I'll read it and pass it on as soon as I can. Thanks! 


Journal Entry 12 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Thursday, July 28, 2005

This book has not been rated.

PMd yourotherleft on July 28/05 requesting an update on how he/she is doing with the book. 


Journal Entry 13 by yourotherleft from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania USA on Sunday, August 07, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Sorry for the delay in response and the delay on moving the book on. I was on vacation and I didn't realize I'd had it so long! Anyhow, I started the book and found that it just wasn't "grabbing" me, so I'm not going to hold it up any longer. It'll be in the mail tomorrow to jenvince (weareatthebeach asked to be skipped). Thanks for giving me the chance to read it, goatgrrl, and sorry for holding it up! 


Journal Entry 14 by jenvince from Scottsdale, Arizona USA on Saturday, August 20, 2005

This book has not been rated.

It's here! Will get to this soon. 


Journal Entry 15 by jenvince at Essenza Coffee House- 1350 S Longmore at Southern in Mesa, Arizona USA on Wednesday, September 07, 2005

This book has not been rated.

Released 8 yrs ago (9/8/2005 UTC) at Essenza Coffee House- 1350 S Longmore at Southern in Mesa, Arizona USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Will be releasing when I meet BigBird2002 for coffee. This will be on one of the bookshelves near the back of the coffee house.
 




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