The Book of Fires

Note lack of snappy title on this post. I think that might be reflective of my feelings about the book I just finished, The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale. Uninspired, I guess. It was an intriguing premise and time — 1752 London, where a young woman from Sussex has fled after being raped and impregnated. She finds work in the home of a fireworks manufacturer.

And then … we wait. The pregnancy advances but she manages to keep it hidden. Somehow. We get ominous information about hangings and what happens to poor people who lie and steal. Our heroine bonds with her employer about fireworks and suddenly waxes lyrical about colors. I’m going to give it a B.

I feel bad. I wanted to like this book. I didn’t dislike it. But it just didn’t transport me to another time and place like, say, Geraldine Brooks’ The Year of Wonders did. Maybe I was distracted by finishing up a research paper for library school. Maybe that’s a good thing, at least as far as my academic and professional careers go. This one would be good for serious historical fiction fans looking for new writers. I got it from the FKCC Library though, as it happens, it is in the Monroe County Library collection (Marathon has it; easy to request if you’re a Key West or other branch patron).

And by the way, if I haven’t done so lately, let me call attention to the FKCC Library — a vastly underutilized community resource because most of us are so lazy we won’t cross White Street. Any Monroe County resident can get a library card there which allows you to borrow books and movies. You just can’t use their computers unless you’re a student — or you buy one of their computer user passes, $25 a month, which is a pretty good deal if you need more access than we can provide in our half-hour-at-a-time free internet at the public library. The college library is open more hours than the public library — Monday through Saturday and evenings Monday through Thursday — and unlike the public library there’s ample parking. They have a great selection of new stuff through the McNaughton book leasing service and if you’re looking for some literary classic, your chances are as good or better at getting it there than with the public library. Plus it’s just fun to browse — and look at art; right now the annual Student Art Show is up on the walls. So stop by, 8901 College Road, upstairs in the A building.

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