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The Fireman's Wife: A Novel by Jack Riggs

The Fireman's Wife: A Novel

by Jack Riggs

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Riggs takes us to a time and place that no longer exists, though reminders n still be found along the Carolina coast or in the mountains. His novel offers no easy answers, yet raises compelling questions about the social and economic forces that shaped the lives of working men and women and reshaped the landscape. His characters are compelling and his prose is a joy to read. ( )
  kdunkelberg | Jan 23, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Carolina sense of place gives readers who like to get the smell and feel of surroundings combined with the interior life of a woman struggling in her marriage to find herself and do what's right.
  aletheia21 | Jan 21, 2012 |
The thing I like about both of Jack Riggs' novels is that they aren't tidy. At the end, we aren't presented with the characters' lives neatly wrapped up, issues resolved, and everything moving forward into the happily ever after. That's not life, and Jack does an excellent job of accurately portraying how life really shakes out.I also love books where the characters become real to me, and I found Cassie to be heartbreaking in her "realness." Although Peck was a bit too close to perfect, their troubles still resonate with the reader, and anyone who knows teenagers appreciates Kelly's role in the story. The secondary characters are authentic as well.All in all, this is a lovely novel. It's well written and well thought out... I only wish I had a book club with which to discuss it because I think it would be a fantastic story to review in that setting. ( )
  kalky | Feb 7, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really wished there had been another title for this book (and I continue to wish it for all the books coming out). That said, I found Rigg's writing to be exceptionally evocative for place, and immediately went to my library to read some of his earlier works. He's definitely a regional writer that I would continue to read. I also wished that the time frame of the book was clearer; the appropriate attitudes for Cassie and Peck (marriage the only option for unplanned pregancy; the waxing women's movement etc) fit the time, but are dated by today's standards. The characters are not as likeable as some, but that doesn't make their story less compelling. It would be a good bookclub pick. ( )
  annaflbak | Jan 22, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Cassie and Peck Johnson's marriage is falling apart. In fact, it's probably been falling apart since it began when Cassie became pregnant with their daughter Kelly during one lovedrunk summer at the beach. Disowned by her Baptist minister father, Cassie is forced to leave the mountain home she loves and her hopes of a college education to move to the sweltering South Carolina low country. There she all but loses her identity in the everyday struggles of raising a daughter and trying to love a fire chief husband who seems to be more involved with his crew than his family. Cassie isn't sure what she wants from life, but she knows that to find out, she'll have to escape strong, steady Peck and his beloved low country, the ties of which she can always feel tight around her.

Sure that this time, really, is the time she is leaving for good, Cassie sets off for the mountains with Kelly and Peck's friend Clay determined to escape from the life that has bound her for so long. Soon, though, she learns that getting away isn't so simple as simply packing her things and driving away. When unexpected events occur, Cassie finds that the new life she's pursuing isn't quite what she'd imagined and maybe not what she's searching for at all.

Told in chapters alternating between Peck and Cassie's perspectives, The Fireman's Wife is a story of a marriage collapsing under the weight of its own past. At the start, the novel is less than captivating. Its choppy, belabored beginning chapters populated by characters who come off as selfish and none too likeable make for rough going. Riggs' beginning is a bit forced and a little too obvious in the telling, and his two main characters don't exactly leap off the page. Luckily, however, as the story continues, it shakes off many of its problems. By the midpoint of the book, Cassie and Peck are more genuinely fleshed out and readers are more involved in their story and their problems. The alternating viewpoints manage to successfully present both sides of an argument that the two never really manage to have. Even the mountains and the low country come to life so that readers can share in the characters' deep love for the essence of their respective homes. Ultimately, readers can't help but pull for the two to heal the damage of their shared past and find a way to reconcile their differences.

The Fireman's Wife is not the perfect novel, but if you can look past some of its ticks (a clunky first fifty pages, an occasional awkwardness in the first person present tense narration, and perhaps an irritating overuse of the expression "pissed off"), it is a sweet story that reminds us both that love isn't always easy, but is worth it, and how sometimes to love another, we first need to know and love ourselves. ( )
  yourotherleft | Nov 16, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345480066, Paperback)

It’s June 1970. As the low country of South Carolina burns in a seven-month drought, Cassie Johnson longs for escape: both from her husband, Peck, the town’s newly promoted fire chief, who seems more interested in saving everyone else’s life than in living his own, and from the low country marshes where Cassie has never quite felt at home. But as Peck and Cassie drift apart, their teenage daughter, Kelly, finds herself torn between her parents and her desperate need for normalcy. It will take a tumultuous journey back to the North Carolina mountains before Cassie can begin to understand the complicated love that resides, unrecognized, deep in her heart.

From a masterly voice in Southern fiction, The Fireman’s Wife is an emotionally bare and moving novel about one woman’s struggle to do what’s right–for her family, for her love, and for herself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:36 -0400)

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