The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard - review by Valeria White

Valeria White


The Great Fire


Virago 314pp £6.99 order from our bookshop

The great fire at the heart of this rueful, understated love story is not the famous London fire but that caused by the bombing of Hiroshima. Aldred Leith, a writer. makes the stricken city the focus of his visit to Japan. In the shadow of his revered father, a writer of genius and a 'loveless' man. Aldred has cultivated independence and placelessness, and h& travels take him away from friends, an estranged wife, and potential life-long loves. The other great fire, which gathers intensity slowly over the course of the novel is Aldred's love for Helen, a girl half his age who, caring for her dying brother, lives across the world from him. This is a gentle and decorous romance, fostered over years of separation, in which the idea of literature as sustenance makes a powerful motif.

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