Cover Image: Into the Fire

Into the Fire

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Member Reviews

A slow burn that closely examines the complexities of female friendship. Captured Melbourne life really well - I immediately felt oriented in familiar surroundings. Was perhaps a little too slow to draw me in, but worth persisting with.
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I don't know what I expected after reading the synopsis. I expected it to be more mystery oriented but it's a rather slow going story without much to really hold my interest.
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I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading Sonia Orchard’s INTO THE FIRE, I mean, I expected a mystery that was gradually going to be revealed to me by one of the characters, but what I read was slightly different. For starters, if you’re expecting a fast paced story, this is not it. However drawn out it seems to be though, the slow burn helps build the relationship between the three key characters in the book. There’s Alice, the victim of a tragic house fire accident, and then there’s Crow, her enigmatic widower with their three children, and then, finally, there’s Lara, our storyteller. We experience the goings on in their lives through the eyes and memory of Lara, who has a sort of equal distance to each of the other people, despite the fact that Lara and Alice used to be the best of friends and we’re very close.

Like I said earlier, this is a slow burn of a book, so no big revelations happen, but rather an unnerving exploration of these people’s lives, their views and their individual relationships with each other. When things start out for the three, they’re tight knit, held together by their ideals and that youthful fire they contain, but of course with years passing, they all change, and their connection suffers, if not severing completely.

The biggest mystery in the story seems to be the fire that claimed Alice’s life, but I felt there was a more important concern, and that was how life can chew and spit out even the best of relationships. Like a lot of people said, this book had touched issues like mental illness and how we, or those around us, grapple with it in our daily lives. It’s the story of how things can so easily go wrong, and how, with one choice, one word, one little action, you can change the course of your life, or the lives of others. Or, perhaps not even that, I don’t know. Life is fleeting, that’s the message I got from this book. It makes you think.

Since I was invested in the characters, the book interested me. The ending fit this kind of story, and Lara’s fluctuating thoughts had me guessing a lot from the beginning. She wasn’t the best storyteller, but then again this is not about her abilities as that, but more about us witnessing a portion of these people’s lives and moving on.
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As someone who loves reading stories that place in Australia by Australian writers, I was hoping I would love this one. It was okay. I think I was expecting something a little different. I was under the impression this would be more of a thriller and not the slow burn relationship drama that it ended up being. This is more of a story of friendship between 2 women from the moment they met until a year after one's death. I am not sure if my preconceived notion is what is causing the lower review or if I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I liked it and it was okay just not exactly what I was expecting.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an opportunity to read and review.
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The book is more about friendship rather than a suspenseful read. I was expecting a sort of psychological thriller but it was actually a reflection of friends growing into adulthood, expectations of your life and dreams, friendship and regrets. This book would be good for book club discussions as it covers friendship topics that are very relate able . I found the last half of the book to be a slow read and found it difficult to follow sympathize for the characters. 

I received an online copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This story crept up on me and became a book I couldn't put down.  Lara and Alice become friends in college.  They are young women with strong beliefs in a woman's right and ability to be an independent and self-sufficient individual.  At some point they meet Crow, an aspiring musician, whose band ultimately becomes very popular and within a short time Crow is a rock star.  He and Alice hit it off soon after meeting and she ultimately gets pregnant with their child.  Crow and Alice marry and have their baby.  Lara feels a bit put out by their relationship and subsequent marriage but maintains her friendship with Alice and Crow as she herself begins her professional life as a filmmaker and producer.  Alice has several other children and her mental stability begins to waver.   Her marriage suffers, as does her relationship with Lara.  Not wanting to give anything away, I strongly recommend this book.  Excellent writing.
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After reading the description of this book I was expecting more of a suspenseful read instead of a book about the friendship of two women and how different their lives were from one another. I did enjoy the descriptions of Australia but wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the book.
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Lara arrives, a year after the death of her best friend Alice in a house fire that also destroyed the house. to visit with Alice's three children and Crow, her widower. She is pregnant with her ex's baby and almost seems to be looking for something.
The story then flashes back in time to when the two women first met at Melbourne university and their story.
Lara initially notices Crow first and forms an infatuation with him, but later Alice meets him and she gets the guy.
After that Lara is almost always the third wheel in their relationship and you get the idea Crow resents this and resents her.
Subsequent events finds Lara feeling a betrayal of her and Alice's oath of feminism and their paths split down totally different directions, leaving each one to become a stranger of the other one.
Later they reconnect and attempt to rebuild their friendship, but there are unmentioned demons that Alice is battling with and reading between the lines, you realise neither woman is sharing her deepest thoughts and feelings with the other one - its as if they resent (and at the same time envy) the life the other one is living.
Alice's request with an unspoken revelation a few weeks before her death chilled me.
Lara's reaction shocked me and made me question what the bond between her and Alice was really like and if she is actually mother material. I felt she was not only betraying her feminist roots but her friendship. It made me wonder if Lara's reaction to Alice wasn't because of her own first attraction to Crow, which always simmers just below the surface, - a form of jealousy?
The description of the fire and events surrounding it was very powerful - could "see" the story in my mind unfolding.

I found this book very heavy reading as I battled to find common ground with either woman. I really didn't like Lara as a person - found her very selfish. Not that either Alice or Crow were much better - although I did feel slight stirrings of sympathy for Alice at times. The other people in their friendship circles were also not my cup of tea. 

This isn't a book I would normally chose to read, BUT it leaves one with a lot to think about.
The closing sentences of Chapter 16 sum up the story very well for me:
"So I never got a chance to say sorry - or rather, I never tried. I was watching her drift away, but I realise now it wasn't just that I didn't want to see her problems which she carried about her like a disease: I also didn't want her seeing mine. We were not the women we once were, and we were the ones who could best bear witness to that change. Sad as it was, it was easier, simply, to look away."

The recollections of events after the fire and the ending was very disturbing.
Did Lara betray Alice and actually cause her death?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this book.
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Into the Fire by Sonia Orchard is about the friendships and relationships among four adults: Laura, Alice, Crow and Christian, over time. The story is told from Laura’s point of view and covers the time from the beginning of her friendship with Alice to a year after Alice’s death in a house fire. It’s a bit of a slow burner in the beginning but becomes more engaging as the story unfolds and is well worth reading, so hang in there! 

The book centers on the friendship of Laura and Alice, but also deeply delves into the relationships of the various combinations of the four. Laura and Alice meet during their first semester at the university. They quickly bond over their mutual fierce feminism and become inseparable. Crow enters the picture during their second semester, and the three of them do everything together, even after Alice and Crow become a couple (who eventually marry.) Christian is Crow’s best friend from prep school. He and Laura become a couple after university. 

While they once shared the same views of the future, life takes Laura and Alice on different paths, and this begins a rift between them. Crow and Alice marry when Alice becomes pregnant; Laura feels that Alice has betrayed the feminist cause and the plans they had made together. Laura travels abroad for five years before settling back in Melbourne and beginning a live-in relationship with Christian. Where she once declared she would never be tied down by children, she now finds herself longing to be a mother. Christian, on the other hand, is clear about not wanting to be a parent. Meanwhile, Alice has had several more children, is totally overwhelmed, and is sinking into mental illness.

The different choices each of the women made for her life leads to each judging the other, even though they are not totally content with or fulfilled by their own choice of paths. Telling the other only what they want to share, the real truths about their lives go unspoken. This takes a further toll on their friendship.

“It was important for me to be proud of my choices, I was intent that my life should appear better – more interesting, more fulfilling – than hers.”

“…it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to see her problems… I also didn’t want her to see mine.”

“A gulf that was more to do with acceptance of one another’s lives and pride or shame in our own.” 

Into the Fire would be a great selection for book club discussions. There is much to ponder within these pages. How long do you hang on to a friendship that doesn’t work anymore? How do you determine when to let a friendship go? What responsibility do you have for your life choices influencing others negatively? 

This book gets a solid 4 stars from me; it would’ve been higher but for the slow start.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Affirm Press for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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The pace of this book was a little slow for me especially since the blurb made it sound like a thriller.  The characters were well written  and the plot was interesting though slow.
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Into the Fire was nothing like I expected. It caught my attention because it's set in Melbourne, and I'm loving Australia based stories right now. It's not a psychological thriller, so if that's what you want then don't bother. It's more like a philosophical journey through an old friendship rooted in feminist ideals that fell apart as time passed. Lara and Alice became friends at University. They shared strongly held feminist beliefs. A woman can conquer the world and have it all. But, Alice marries Crow and basically goes to the country to raise kids and be a wife. Essentially, Alice gave up on being a feminist. Lara wants to have it all, but does she? In the story, Lara is visiting Crow over a weekend to catch up and all. Alice died a year ago in a house fire. Alice was mentally not well,and Lara wonders if she could have done anything else to save Alice. Did she see the signs and ignore them? Lara has a lot of guilt. The story is mostly background about their friendship through time and how motherhood and marriage change ideas. It's slow going and so over worded at times, but don't give up. You want to read the end. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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If you're looking for a slow burn book with the most realistic characters I've ever read about, than "Into The Fire" is the book for you. I honestly wasn't sure what I was getting myself into when I started this book, but by the end I was completely sucked into it and couldn't believe what I was reading. Lara's world changed the day her best friend Alice died, but what she learns after will change everything.

Something I loved about this book, and that I don't really get in other books, is the rich backstory we get on the characters. I would say about seventy five percent of the book is pure backstory, and I thought that was really interesting. We don't really get to see much of present day Lara until we need to. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters, told through Lara's memories. 

The story follows Lara and Alice of course, from Lara's point of view, and then later Crow, and eventually Alice's children. When Alice died in a house fire, no one handled it very well. Not that you would expect them to. Crow was left alone with their three children, and Lara felt like her death was completely her fault. 

One of the most interesting things about this story, I would say, is that the plot twist isn't until the very last page. And let me tell you, I had no idea it was coming. Books like these make me glad I've been branching out and trying to read all kinds of stories, because if I would have just kept reading the same genre's of books over and over, I would never have gotten to read this one, and I think it's one of the best books I've read so far this year. 

Definitely check this book out, and read until the end, even if you think you're not into it. If you're someone like me, I can promise you that you'll love this book, and you might even pick yourself up a paper copy for your shelf, like I want to. The writing in this book is so smooth and the story just flows along like the best kind of journal, and I really felt like I was inside Lara's head. For hours after I finished this, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And that's really all I need to say. Check it out if you get the chance.

Thanks for reading!
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I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters are very believable and the story echoes life itself.  All about relationships and how time and distance can change our perspective. 
Thank you Net Galley for allowing me to read this book..
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This is a slow burn of a book, a little too slow for me. Lara is having survivors guilt after her friend Alice dies after her house burns down. She wonders if she could have done more to help her friend. who was suffering from mental illness. It follows the women's lives from the day they met until a year after the fire. Yes it has some salient points philosophising about life, but all in all it wasn't for me.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a deeply moving, very sad story about two women who meet when they are young and in college and the story of their friendship. Their friendship was rowdy and unapologetic as they bantered and bounced ideas off each other, shared sodas and their room and their time. But as they grew, who they were changed and they had a choice to make - continue to hold to each other or drift away.

This is also an interesting look at toxicity in friendships - that drive to have more and get more but also the push to only show your best self. We should have those that we push those barriers down for and show our weakness - and these two seemed unsure as they became adults if they could do that with each other. It's a touching story but also gut-wrenching. I saw the ending a mile away but I also saw so many signs that she chose to ignore. 

I'm glad I read this. It was very good.
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In Australia, Sonia Orchard creates the life of two young women, Lara and Alice, and shows what their transition from university to adult life might look like today.  Both women spent many hours in gender studies and considered themselves indomitable feminists.

Alice is a dominant personality who Lara depends on as a friend, family, and partner in exploring twenty-something life.  Unfortunately, Alice dies in a house fire.  A year later, in one weekend that Lara spends with Alice's husband, Crow, she begins to recall conversations, feelings, and facts about their lives in the heady days of youth and coming of age.

Lara looks at the life Alice chose versus the one she fell into early on.  The question of feminism and choosing a career, husband, and children plagues Lara.
She tries to work out what could have gone wrong for Alice.  We always ask that question of our young selves and friends' lives, but rarely find any answers. Orchard does an excellent job of laying out a believable story of women that is universal.

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley.
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This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting according to the blurb I read but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I was expecting a sort of psychological thriller but it was actually a reflection of friends growing into adulthood, expectations of your life and dreams, friendship and regrets.
With a thread of mental illness and domestic manipulation running throughout.

Totally unexpected storyline, which gave me cause to think about the book more deeply.
It could be a good book club book for discussion.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy to read.
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Alice, Crow, Lara – three close friends. 
And then Alice dies…… in a fire. Was it an accident?
That’s Sonia Orchard’s Into the Fire in a nutshell. It chronicles the journey of three people- Alice and her husband Crow and her best friend, Lara, who narrates the story. It showcases Lara’s and Alice’s journey from their days in the university till Alice’s death several years later. 

Into the Fire was not an easy read for me because it held up a mirror to many uncomfortable truths. This book shows how people who were once close to each other (so close that they were privy to each other’s secrets) drift apart slowly and painfully. This novel also conveys how foolish decisions ruin our lives—not drastically and not outright, but slowly so that every waking moment is painful to endure. A significant part of the book is about our refusal to accept the consequences of our actions and our ever-increasing wants. Finally, Orchard also touches upon mental illness. The drudgery of life exacerbated by an unsupportive spouse who gradually turns into a malicious one can crush even the strongest of hopes and the happiest of persons. 

Long after I finished the book and was wondering what to rate it, these thoughts hit me. However, when I was leafing through the book, it was, unfortunately, a dreary, rambling story. Orchard has prolonged it unnecessarily by quoting studies on philosophy most of which I didn’t understand. It’s only the last 20% of the book (Kindle edition) that’s gripping because Lara doesn’t prattle here at all. With no studies quoted or any dense, philosophical musing to disrupt the flow of the story, I could clearly perceive Lara’s feelings in the last few pages. A sense of unease grew as if the cold, clammy hand of reality was closing about me. Orchard never corroborates what happens between Alice and Crow. It’s always Alice’s version of events versus Crow’s version. Whom should Lara believe? The hysterical, emotional Alice who has got a short fuse, or the calm and controlled Crow. 

If only the story was more compact, and Orchard hadn’t played peek-a-boo with Lara’s feelings by shrouding them in philosophy, I would have rated it higher+. Although I did not understand the esoteric musings, that may not be the case for everyone. People who prefer heavy books will like it. Those looking for mystery should brave a slow first and middle part. The book deals with dark themes, so, go for it if that’s your cup of tea. 
Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I was attracted to this book 
by its aesthetically pleasing cover, by the theme of female friendship and by the Australian setting (and not necessarily in that order). I have read Jane Harper’s The Dry earlier this year, and I was curious to read more Australian writers. They seem to have quite a different voice from the mainstream American-British literature I’m used to. Which sounds pretty naive from me, I know, but I’m a complete ignoramus when it comes to Australia.

I loved the book, although it started slow and took its time to get to the main point of tension. But provided you’re not in a big hurry (in which case a more classic thriller would be more suitable), there are many things to enjoy in this novel. “Into the fire” chronicles the slow evolution of a friendship during two decades between two women, Alice and Lara, who met at university. It’s probably a universal sentiment to have had deep friendships loose their intensity as people grow older and grow apart.

The point that Sonia Orchard adds to this classic mix is that Alice and Lara had strong feminist ideals when they met, which united them, and Orchard dissects how life make these ideals a lot murkier when confronted with motherhood, marriage, work and partner choices. Lara has been in awe of Alice because of her independence and strong voice. She is surprised and upset when her best friend falls for a charming musician, gets pregnant and moves to the countryside to raise their kids.

There is also a strong element of mystery, but the friendship (and subsequent betrayal thereof) was what interested most. Lara is an unreliable narrator who is not completely sympathetic, but I could understand her and relate to her sadness and regrets.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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"I'd always treated individualism as the pathway to self-actualisation, but now I was beginning to wonder if individualism was actually just the most effective way of shoring up one's place in the pack."

I really liked this book, it wasn't anything that I thought it would be but it was a great read.
Lara is still coming to terms with the death of her friend and recounts various memories throughout the novel of her friendship with Alice, the deceased, and how things slowly went sour. This was a great book about how friendships from youth can fizzle out with the stresses and strains of life and how we go down different paths and end up drifting away from the ones we loved so much.

Along the way we learn more about Alice's personality, the beliefs she thought she held dear and how womanhood changes those beliefs. Lara is a little behind in learning much of the things that Alice has already learned and that's where their friendship begins to fray. Looking back Lara also notices the warning signs that at the time didn't alert her enough to her friends slow and steady demise but she also learns that not everything is as it seems. People hold secrets and those secrets and those lies will always come out in the end, and they do.

It was a really interesting read to hear about Lara's views on feminism and also seeing how she grows in her worlds view as she goes through different things in life.

"I began to wonder if that was indeed my problem: I'd believed my own feminist propaganda. I'd believed I could have it all- that 'all' was in fact rightfully mine."

Ultimately this is a very good book, full of honesty and beautiful prose that really shows that not everything is as it seems..

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in turn for this review.
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