Review: Shirley Hazzard’s “The Great Fire”

by writereaderly

shirley hazzard the great fireI’d kept seeing this one around, and wanted to balance CP’s collection of Great Men with a woman writer I was unfamiliar with – and this was simply excellent. Set in SE Asia a couple of years after WWII, it explores the survival of the soul of Aldred Leith and the coming of love with (very) young Helen Driscoll. It is a delicate, finely honed novel, with simply gorgeous turns of phrase and contemplation. Somehow, I think of it as dignified. I think the romance really left Helen with little choice, and that she was a leetle too much of a paragon, but the insight into all characters, and especially the hero’s, was splendid and humbling. A great book, very highly recommended. Feels like the best book I’ve read in an age, outscoring even the earlier highlights from the same bookshelf.

PS 200 posts ahoy.

Where it came from: CP’s bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Bed sample, followed by sunny, grassy read, and 200pp hot-bath delectation for wrap-up
Where it went: Home
Reminds me of/that: The miraculous difference between good and excellent writing
Who I’d recommend it to:
Seekers of a truly good book
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley