The Book of Fire by Christy Lefteri
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a story within a story, about a woman and her daughter, about her husband and his loss, about a fire that devastated their forest, their town, their lives. It is about family and love, greed for money, regret, loss, and death. And always about the fire. And the man who started it.
It is also about kindness. The faithful dog that stays by their side, the old women they accompany, the family who takes them in, the baby jackal they rescue, the lies adults tell each other so the children do not learn of terrible truths too young.
And numbness. The kind that leaves you unable to do anything until it's too late. Leaving you wondering again, what if? What if I had acted? Is this then my fault?
The Book of Fire is a quiet book with a fiery soul. Irini tells it in the aftermath of the fire, in the midst of rebuilding their lives, as her husband, Tasso, struggles with depression and the damage to his hands and her daughter, Chara, deals with an injury and tries to make sense of it all. She copes with the difficult bits by telling us the past in a fairy tale, in that once upon a Harry Lime, interweaving stories of her father and her great-grandfather, of their movements to and from this little forest in Greece that she now calls home.
Lefteri does very well in writing about loss and love, and also interweaving in the histories of the people and the places in the novel. This feels a little lighter than The Beekeeper of Aleppo, maybe because the scope feels a little smaller, the stakes a little lower. It's a beautiful read, all the same.
Note: I received a digital ARC of this book from Bonnier Books UK via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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