Cover Image: The Book of Fire

The Book of Fire

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The Book of Fire is a reminder to the reader just how fragile life is and how, in the blink of an eye, everything can change.Thank you netgalley and the publisher for the arc in exchange for a review

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📕 “There was one boy who caught his eye, similar in age to himself, tattered clothes and forlorn eyes, and in his hands, he held a bouzouki. For a split second, the boy thought he was seeing himself, that he was in fact looking into a mirror that stretched across the land. But then he realized that the instrument in the boy's hands was not the same as his: it was a baglama, a long-necked lute. " "They are Turkish, a man behind him said. 'They are being led away from their homes by the Greeks. They are heading the way we came.' "And with these words, the boy understood what his father had meant. They demonize each other, he had said. The 'other' is always to blame and it fuels people and groups and governments with fire. This never leads to any good on this earth. And right here Vassilios could see that they were all their own enemies, that they were all human, all in pain, all hurting each other from hatred and fear.”
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📗The clash of hopelessness and hopefulness was so obvious in this story. Hopelessness of a father who saw the destruction (death of a parent) was harder to fix even with hopefulness of a daughter who had seen another destruction standing next to her father. But the worst was for the woman who got stuck between this husband and this daughter
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📘There was something unspeakable done to a person in this story. It made me think of the age old question of if capital punishment is acceptable for certain type of crimes. Weirdly this action felt far more barbaric than the capital punishment. But also, can we blame the people?

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The Book of Fire was a wonderfully written story about how one tragic event shapes so many lives for decades. The resilience of the human spirit was a strong theme in this book and Lefteri's writing never ceases to amaze.

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A woman, her young daughter, dog, and husband struggle through injuries and grief after a wildfire rips through their home and the surrounding forrest. In the aftermath of destruction, the woman discovered the man who started the fire. He is dead at the base of a once beautiful Chestnut tree in the forrest he burned. Did he take his own life or was he murdered for his terrible mistake?

I found this story to be beautiful and horrific at the same time. The awful tragedy of the fire, the mother and daughter fighting until bring rescued, not knowing if they would see her husband and father again. The charred remains of their life and family, the sadness of losing the passion for things they onced loved. It was heartbreaking. But the kindness of strangers, the injured jackal Chara discovers and nurses to health, the beautiful paintings remaining and yet to be created.... There is hope and beauty in tragedy and sorrow. This was an excellent story, highly recommend!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read in exchange for my honest opinion!

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This was a very good book. Devastation of land by fire and the destruction it created amongst this family. It was also healing.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC of Christy Lefteri's The Book of Fire.

I've been a fan of Lefteri since reading The Beekeeper of Aleppo. Her writing style captures the local region of each story, and I think she writes in a way that makes me identify with the emptions of the characters..
In The Book of Fire, I felt the fear and anguish felt by the people facing the desperation of a wildfire, and struggling to recover both physically and mentally. The story is timely with the increasing number of wildfires certain regions of the planet are facing.

I look forward to her next book [ highly recommend The Book of Fire.

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A local developer started a fire to clear land that quickly burned the whole town. Irini and her family try to recover after escaping from their burning home and both her daughter and husband have burn wounds that are healing. As they are recovering and trying to find their footing, Irini stumbles across the local developer in the forest as he's dying. The story then breaks into the guilt Irini feels for not doing enough to save him and her past as she retraces how they got there. Overall, a family story about what it means to rebuild and whether forgiveness and reconciliation is possible.

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The writing is unquestionably beautiful. This author has a way of pulling you in so you see, hear, taste and feel the words she is writing. This isn't a story with much of plot. It is a simple and yet complex tale of the relationship we have to this amazing earth on which we live. I am the farthest thing from a granola crunching tree hugger. But even I can see that we have not been great stewards of the gifts we have been granted by Mother Earth. And this is a story about exactly that...a sad and cautionary story.

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The Book of Fire tells the story of an ancient forest near a Greek city that is ravaged by a fire that wasn't a natural wildfire. The fire was started accidentally by a wealthy businessman that lived in a large house outside of the town. The fire burned through the forest that the people loved, leaving a ghost of the forest behind. Many of the people were injured or died. As I read, I could feel the heat of the fire and smell the fire and smoke through the descriptions.. The first story line is told by Irini and how her husband Tasso and daughter Chara, both injured in the fire, are taking steps to heal and recover. A few months after the fire, Irini comes across the wealthy businessman sitting at the base of an ancient chestnut tree. She makes a decision to leave him there. As the ensuing investigation of his death begins, Irini wrestles with what she had done. Another storyline is Irini telling the story of her great-grandfather and his trials and tribulations involving the ancient forest and his past. The Book of Fire is beautifully written of the destruction of the fire and how it impacted so many lives and how people tried to recover their lives.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read the ARC of The Book of Fire.

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The Book of Fire was a special book for me - I live in Southern California where we have fire seasons and have known too well the devastation when property and lives are lost, THE BOOK OF FIRE resonated with mee depply - its an emotional read that touched upon the themes of resilience, humanity, and community. I really appreciated the Author's note on this book - I will be thinking of this book for a long while.

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Gorgeously written [my friend, in her review, talked about the author's ability to slow time and I agree with this completely], meticulously researched [especially by seeing the affects of a forest fire first hand and talking to survivors] and filled with heartbreaking scenarios, this book moved me to tears more than once and also made me question just exactly would I have done if I had been in Irini's shoes when she meets Mr. Monk in the woods [what a tough place to be in] and in the aftermath.

Set in modern-day Greece, this is a truly heartbreaking story about a family, love [and what one is willing to do for love], and the affects of climate change and what happens when we ignore the very clues right in front of us and when a fire sweeps in, we are then forced to face the destruction and devastation left behind.

Thank you to NetGalley, Christy Lefteri, and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine/Ballantine Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Irini and her family have to flee a wildfire that is started in there town by a business man trying to get land available to build on. They manage to survive, but only barely. Her daughter is scarred, her husband is injured and her Father in Law is missing. As the whole town begins to navigate how to rebuild after the devastation, Irini has to come to terms with her own feelings of guilt.

This book took me two months to read...and that is a ridiculously long time for me. I just could not get into this at all, but I honestly think it just wasn't for me. There are plenty of people out there who I am sure would have enjoyed this way more than I did. I didn't hate it, but it definitely isn't my cup of tea.

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The first few sentences were so vivid and stark that this reader was instantly engaged. The writing is lyrically reflective, descriptive, not maudlin in the least. Coy at times, direct at others, yet continues to engage with this deadly reflection on the aftermath of the devastation of a community and of one family in particular from the effects of an uncontrolled fire that had been intended as a small controlled burn. Magically delicious writing.

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A catastrophic forrest fire cripples the lives of the people in a small coastal Greek village. The story of the struggle to save the lives of their loved ones and their homes is heartbreaking, The struggle to move forward in the fire's aftermath, to heal and recover but also to understand how and why the fire started is brilliant. I love this uniquely written story about our relationship with the nature that surrounds us, how it impacts our lives, and vice versa. The characters and their emotions became very real to me. The description of the villagers and their lives on their beautiful island painted a picture thay deepened the story. The Book of Fire is a hard one to forget.

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4.5⭐️

A forest fire wreaks havoc in the lives of the residents of a Greek village located in the foothills of a mountain, close to the sea, wiping out homes and leaving a trail of death and devastation in its wake. Irina, a music teacher, her painter husband Tasso, and young daughter Clara, along with their dog, are among those who survive the fire. Irina decides to write about her experiences to help her cope with the trauma, her own “Book of Fire.”

The Book of Fire by Christy Lefteri is a deeply emotional read that revolves around family, home and community, human resilience, and survival. The narrative moves between past and present with chapters from Irina’s “book” interspersed throughout the present-day narrative describing the events of the day of the fire and its immediate aftermath. The present-day narrative follows Irina and her family and their friends who chose to remain on the island and go about rebuilding their community while coming to terms with their losses.

We share Irina’s journey as she and her family deal with their physical and emotional trauma from the fire, the destruction of their home, and the surrounding forest area in the aftermath of the tragedy. Irina also encounters the man responsible for the fire and struggles with her guilt over her reaction toward him in a critical moment.

The writing is descriptive, and the author transports you to Irina’s world before and after the fire. The author focuses on important themes such as forced migration, climate change and environmental concerns, corporate greed and human negligence, trauma, and grief, among others.

Beautifully written, intimate, heartbreaking yet hopeful, this is the kind of story that stays with you long after you have turned the last page. Do read the Author’s note where she discusses the places and the events that inspired her to write this novel.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The main character in this novel is Irini who teaches children how to read and play music. She is married to tasso an artist who paints the lush forest near their home on Cyprus. Their daughter Chara (which means Joy) spends time in the forest also which she loves.
When a wildfire destroys their small village, their home, the forest and their lives, Irini searches for meaning and tries to find what was lost by the tragedy. The book is primarily Irini's internal thoughts and feelings after having discovered the man who started the fire near death under the huge chestnut tree that is partially burned, and leaving him to die alone. He started the fire in order to clear a small area of land to build a hotel. And the fire turned a place of beauty into a colorless place without life.
The narration alternates between Irini's description of their lives before the fire and after it. Through her thoughts, the author stressed the impact of climate change and global warming, She also stressed that greed is something that will lead to destruction.
I found the book to be sad as the characters had little hope of finding a peaceful future or of recovering what was lost. the author described the physical and emotional scars that the villagers were left with, and the limitations that these scars left on them. Irini's dilemma was whether she was to blame for the man dying when she might have done something to help him. I found it repetitious and belabored.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, and the opinions expressed her are entirely my own.

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#januaryread

The Book of Fire by Christy Lefteri
#netgalley published 1/2/24
#generalfiction

Rounding up for ratings. I realized that the book moved along a lot better for me when I started to listen to it through my kindle with the screen reader. The reading was just slow going for me. I'm not sure why. Wish I could give a reason. You might want to give the audio book a go if you decide to read this one.

This book was told in 2 timelines. Current day (chapter numbers) and the days of the fire/following the fire (The Book of Fire). Both timelines surrounding the mother of this family effected by the fire. It was a nice way to see the story. There was slight a mystery surrounding the man who started the fire as well as the story of the people effected by it.

#ballantinebooks
#womensfiction

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My thanks go to NetGalley and Random House Ballantine for the invitation to read and review. I found myself drawn to this novel because it’s different from everything else I have read. I’m fairly sure that I have never read a book set entirely in Greece; then there’s the fire, and the way that the forest interacts with the rural community living in and around it; many people have relied upon it, in one way or another, to make a living. The Book of Fire is an interesting read, and it’s available to the public now.

Having said this, my first 25% or so of the story finds me with buyer’s remorse (or, reader’s remorse?) The thing is sorrow, grief, and more sorrow. I begin to think maybe I’ll abandon it, because eventually one disengages when there’s no hope of any kind for a brighter outcome. But just as these thoughts begin to crystalize, there is a subtle shift, and then the whole thing becomes more toothsome.

The story is told in alternating timeframes, with the current day being told to us in the first person, while the past is told as if it is a fairytale, and so in it, our protagonist, Irini, is referred to most of the time as “the mother,” her spouse is “the husband,” and their child is “the girl.” It took me a long time to figure out the protagonist’s name, but then there is dialogue, and that helps.

Initially, the protagonist confides to us what she has done. She found the arsonist in the burnt forest; he was on the ground beneath a tree with a rope around his neck. The branch above him is broken, so it’s either a botched lynching or a botched suicide, but not entirely botched, because he’s in bad shape. She begins to try to help him, but then she remembers what he has done, and she walks away from him. When she returns the next day, full of remorse, he’s dead. And so already we have this fact thrown in there along with the man’s own crime. We don’t know whether he did this or it was done to him until nearly the end.

In time more details emerge to muddy the waters of responsibility, so then she has a hundred little ethical questions to examine, and these are joined with a powerful environmental message. Because of this, I think this novel would be terrific for book clubs, and also for the high school classroom. There’s no sex in it, and the vocabulary is accessible. And despite my early fears, the entire book is not a portrait of grief and misery.

Recommended to those that enjoy literary fiction.

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The Book of Fire is the story Irini writes after her family suffered from a fire set by a man in their village. In alternating chapters, readers jump back and forth from the present day to the day the fire started in their idyllic Greek Island village. After the fire, Irini writes The Book of Fire to record all the details of how this affected their family.

Irini, her husband, Tasso, and their daughter Chara were enjoying the beautiful, yet hot summer day when a fire races through the forest and into the village. As the villagers flee their homes, many, including Irini, Chara, and their dog Rosalie must jump into the sea to survive while Tasso runs to find his father. After hours of treading water and floating Irini, Chara, and Rosalie are finally rescued. They have no idea what has happened to Tasso, his father, or the rest of their village.

"Since the fire, her love has become delicate: she lives life as if she is holding a butterfly in her palm afraid that it will die."

After the investigation, it is revealed that Mr. Monk started the fire to make way for a new property he was hoping to build, obviously not intending for the fire to get out of control. Irini comes across Mr. Monk’s path after the fire and what happens between them will forever alter her life. Tasso and Chara must deal with their injuries and losses while Irini must deal with hatred for the man who started the fire.

"The dog licked the tears from the girl’s face, and a clear note of laughter escaped from her mouth and flew up to the black sky like a free bird."

The author, Christy Lefteri, also wrote the much-loved book, THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO. While working at a refugee center in Athens in 2017 (which inspired her previous book), she awoke one morning to a fire in a village not too far from her. Hundreds were forced to flee their homes and it made her feel vulnerable, which led her to write this story.

She believes the fires that are happening here, in Australia, in Greece, and in other countries are becoming more common and more intense due to exceptionally dry conditions which makes them beyond control. There is an underlying current in the novel warning about the dangers of climate change and neglecting the land. It doesn’t take away from the story, but it does feel like there is an agenda to the story. Readers will find themes of guilt, trauma, loss, and anxiety in all the characters. The descriptions of the village, the people recovering after the fire, and how bleak the village appears were all easily imagined due to Lefteri’s emotionally evocative storytelling.

As you can imagine, this is a tough story to read. There isn’t a lot of happiness until you get pretty near the end of the novel. But, as Mr. Rogers says, find the helpers in tragedy. Irini has a close friend who helps her through the struggles after the fire. A family takes in Irini, Chara, and Rosalie when they are rescued from the sea and helps them immensely. There is so much sadness on the pages of this novel but it does eventually lead to a hopeful ending full of healing and fresh starts. Like the chestnut tree that survives the fire with one side charred, this family survives and comes out stronger, even though there are lasting scars.

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In the heart of present-day Greece, a family's world is set ablaze, both metaphorically and literally in a poignant narrative that unfolds in "The Book of Fire." The book explores the profound impact of tragedy on the lives of Irini, Tasso and their daughter Chara, as they deal with the aftermath of a devastating wildfire that engulfs not just their home but the very essence of their existence.

The narrative takes an intense twist when the family confronts the man responsible for the catastrophic fire, a land speculator whose recklessness sparks a tragedy of colossal proportions. Fueled by anger and grief, Irini is faced with a moral dilemma that will haunt her and make her explore the consequences of her impulsive decision.

I really enjoyed Christy Lefteri's beautiful writing style. She skillfully navigates the character's inner turmoil, allowing readers to empathize with their pain and celebrate their moments of resilience. The book captures the essence of the human spirit in the face of adversity. "The Book of Fire" explores the far-reaching consequences of one man's actions but also paints a vivid portrait of the enduring strength found within the bonds of family and the landscapes that shaped their lives.

I would recommend buying this book. I would like to thank NetGalley for an advanced copy of "The Book of Fire" in return for an honest review. #NetGalley #TheBookofFirev #christylefteri

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