Book Reviews of The Great Fire

The Great Fire
The Great Fire
Author: Shirley Hazzard
ISBN-13: 9780374278212
ISBN-10: 0374278210
Pages: 288
Edition: Today Show Book Club
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.

3 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

15 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 3
This book has won many awards, including the National Book Award, and Shirley Hazzard's prose can be wonderful. For me, it was a little bit of a struggle to read through the entire book. Much of the story centers on an unlikely love story in the East, immediately after WW II.
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Beautifully written & haunting story.
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Praised as one of the 1001 books to read before you die, so I had to try it. Came away unsure of why it is proclaimed as so great. I tend to really like personal stories based in an unsettled or uncertain setting, such as post-war. Usually characters living in urgency are characters with depth and emotion; however, I found the characters in this book to be flat and static. The strand of emotional and physical desire between the adult male main character and the immature and vulnerable child/woman to verge on abusive. With no parents present to protect her (or uninterested in protecting her, which I found unbelievable), the pursuit of her lacked positive elements.
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A true love story during a unique period of time. Very engrossing and really enjoyed the international issues, the history, the way it was written and the love of the parties involved. A possitive, enjoyable read.
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This is a British love story, so if you are interested in this place and era, you will like this. I very much enjoyed it. It is very well written and takes place after the war. It had me in tears in places but it is such a beautiful story, I just keep reading and turning the pages. I'm thinking this is possibly one of my most favorite love stories that i have read in the past few years.
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1947, Occupied Japan, story of love and separation. I needed a dictionary for some of the vocabulary in this book. Should be read twice; first to get the plot and characters (and vocabulary) and then to appreciate the author's excellent writing.
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The writing is very choppy. I had to read many sentences over again which greatly interrupted the flow. I thought some of the sentences were beautiful, but the book just was too ponderous.
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A hypnotic novel that unfolds like a dream: Japan, Southeast Asia, the end of one war and the beginning of another, and in the center of it--a love story. Set in 1947, it is a story of love and separation, of disillusion and recovered humanity. By the author of 'The Transit of Venus.'
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young military officer's efforts to repatriate WW2 victimis after Japan surrendered
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Enjoyed this British novel. I love WWII fictional stories.
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The year is 1947. The great fire of the Second World War has convulsed Europe and Asia. In its wake, Aldred Leith, an acclaimed hero of the conflict, has spent two years in China at work on an account of world-transforming change there. Son of a famed and sexually ruthless novelist, Leith begins to resist his own self-sufficiency, nurtured by war. Peter Exley, another veteran and an art historian by training, is prosecuting war crimes committed by the Japanese. Both men have narrowly escaped death in battle, and Leith saved Exley's life. The men have maintained long-distance friendship in a postwar loneliness that haunts them both, and which has swallowed Exley whole. Now in their thirties, with their youth behind them and their world in ruins, both must invent the future and retrieve a private humanity.

Arriving in Occupied Japan to record the effects of the bomb at Hiroshima, Leith meets Benedict and Helen Driscoll, the Australian son and daughter of a tyrannical medical administrator. Benedict, at twenty, is doomed by a rare degenerative disease. Helen, still younger, is inseparable from her brother. Precocious, brilliant, sensitive, at home in the books they read together, these two have been, in Leith's words, delivered by literature. The young people capture Leith's sympathy; indeed, he finds himself struggling with his attraction to this girl whose feelings are as intense as his own and from whom he will soon be fatefully parted.
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Written in 2003 and winner of the National Book Award for fiction.
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from Barnes and Noble:


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, 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.
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National Book Award winner
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Prize winning novel World War II aftermath