My Book World
This novel takes place all over the globe, it seems, in the period following World War II. When one first encounters the word “fire,” one believes that the book may be about a single fire. The next false signal is near the end of Part One in which, in a flashback to 1942, one witnesses a plane crash: “There was an explosion after the crash, then a great fire that, despite the rains, smouldered on overnight. The villagers struggled up in the wet, but explosions kept them off” (52). Mere foreshadowing. The main character, Aldred Leith, recalls, as a youth, visiting a monument to WWI in London, one of over 300 steps: “The monument to the Great Fire” (91). Leith, in his thirties, falls in love with a girl of seventeen and eventually marries her, but even that relationship of love cannot save him from the author’s great fire, the war through which he has just lived:
“Even to her, he would not say outright that he was thinking of death: of the many who had died in their youth, under his eyes; of those he had killed, of whom he’d known nothing. On the red battlefield, where I’ll never go again; in the inextinguishable conflagration” (278).
Any war is comprised of fire, from fireball to friendly fire, but Hazzard transforms war from an abstraction into one single, eternal event, as she says, a conflagration.
NEXT FRIDAY: My Book World | TBD