The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard

The Great Fire

Shirley Hazzard

Set in Hong Kong and Japan this book delivers a colourful and very different view of WW2. The characters are sensitively drawn and bring home the realities of war. Our readers groups thought this one should have won the Orange Prize this year - it's certainly a well written and absorbing read.

Extract

Leith started on the path that led down to his quarters, a walk overhung by low, knotty pines angled by weather - for this slope was ultimately exposed, beyond some undulations, to the sea. He saw that Benedict was being helped along ahead of him, and hung back in order not to interfere.

Melba Driscoll had come after him. 'You've seen our tragedy.'

Leith said, "You have a remarkable son.'

'It's been diagnosed. We've never beem sure, but now a specialist in London ...' She said, 'We've been through so much.'

He said, "A cruel disease.' He could not hold out against her, but felt disloyal to the boy. Aware of it, the mother nevertheless led with the trump card of her son's affliction.

'People have no idea. And so hard on his father, who was a champion .... A woman can stand it better. Women are given special strength.

Parallels
  • Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott
  • Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard

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