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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane

From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.

From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness. 

Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .

For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.

A book group choice and I am quite torn about my review.  It started really well and I could relate to the story and the characters quite well - being of a similar age to me - but then it lost it's way in the middle.  It was a good 150 pages too long with far too much going on in the middle that was wholly unnecessary to the main story.  It was also full of cliches throughout which did start to grate on my nerves at times.

What kept me reading (and, on the whole, enjoying) the book was that I could relate separately to both the main characters.  Tully reminded me of life as a career woman, always working so much that it was difficult to find the time to cultivate close friendships with people, or indeed keep a marriage going smoothly!  Everyone thinks they know you and make their own judgements without actually knowing the person behind the business persona.  Then came Kate, the intelligent, successful woman that decided to be a stay at home mum and devoting her entire life to her husband and kids.  The place I am in now as a stay at home wife and Mother where some people think I have sacrificed my career for it, just the position Kate finds herself in.

What brought this book back from the less than 3 star review was the ending.  I was so worried that the author was going to go for a terribly cliched ending but she surprised me.  I found myself reading the last 100 or so pages while floating on my pool yesterday and even in that peaceful and idyllic surrounding, I was in floods of tears.  Any book that can melt the Ice Queen deserves a high rating.

I couldn't quite bring myself to give it 5 out of 5 because of the cliches and excess in the middle but did give it 4 out of 5.  This would make a great holiday book, where you don't have t concentrate too hard in the middle but are given a great ending.

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