BOOK CLUB: Home Fires

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Author: Fiona Lowe
ISBN: 9781489257338
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 18 February 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Fiona Lowe is a talented and prolific Australian author, she writes in multiple genres and though I haven’t read a lot of her work though I have read the Australian sagas, and loved them.


Life gets well and truly on top of me sometimes and I am still reading this book. I started with such great intentions, way too long ago, and I hope to finish it sometime this month.

Lowe has written a complex story of the long road to recovery after devastating bushfires wreak havoc on a small town. The rebuilding has begun and there are lots of bright new business buildings but the damage to people and their relationships are much harder to heal.

I’m about two thirds of the way through and invested in the story, connected to the characters and wishing I could reach in and slap some characters.

It is difficult for me to review too extensively because I am still in the midst of this story, still living with these characters and waiting with some semblance of patience to find out how it’s all going to end.

The narrative jumps through a number of leading ladies in both the past and the present. We get to know them through snippets of life in the time before the fires, before their worlds were completely torn down and in need of rebuilding as well as navigating the post-fire life they have been left with.

Julie is a community stalwart who has spent decades working for the town and now she wants to bring in some fresh faces to hand the baton to and help bring the tourists back to the struggling town. She handpicks a craft group of unlikely allies who meet once a week and slowly begin to forge more than just a civil working relationship.

Fiona Lowe has written strong and believable characters who will certainly flex all of your empathetic muscles, and those that will test all of your nerves.

Home Fires is a tale of home, loss, heartbreak and renewal. Lowe has explored small town communities with intricate care and sensitivity resulting in a story that is driven by it’s strong female characters; a story about the people and their relationships more than the events taking place around them.

I can’t wait to finish and sit back to really think about this one, once everything is said and done. If I’m really lucky someone will get what’s coming to them.

******

UPDATE: So I gave myself the night off and curled up with this book, and stayed up way past bedtime reading until I finished.

The final third of the book pulled together all the threads to give a comprehensive picture of the whys. We get an in-depth look at the day of the fire through the eyes of our leads and it goes a long way to help us understand the long term trauma they are still dealing with two years later.

I loved this element of the story and it totally tugged my heart-strings thinking of what these characters lived through, and ultimately had to live with.

There were a couple of interesting twists that I didn’t see coming and a satisfying ending that saw me close the book with a smile.

I’m also really looking forward to hearing what our members have to say about Home Fires.

Fiona Lowe can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her Website.

Thanks to HQ Fiction 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Home Fires and you can read what they thought in the comments below.

Home Fires is available now through HQ Fiction and where all good books are sold.

17 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Home Fires

  1. I admit I found reading this book at the start a bit up and down for me but persistence paid through brilliantly just before halfway through the book and I have just finished a beautiful storyline about tragedy, love, secrets, friendships, precious memories and loss.

    My confusion was a little into the book where I was learning about the characters but the chapters are long and they start with a year before the fires, then 3 months after the fires and then jumps back to a year before the fires then 6 months after the fires. Push through with reading and everything starts to fall into place.

    The start of the book revolves around the storyline of Claire who I absolutely loved and then as you read on, you learn about Sophie and Bec. The book mostly centres upon these 3 women and how a motherly character named Julie wants to bring tourism back to their town called Myrtle which is in the Victorian Otway Ranges after the bushfires ripped through their town.

    Some people were left homeless and their lives and jobs were on the line. Their future looked impossible to understand where to go from there.

    Claire and Bec are not the greatest of friends as they have known each other since school days and Sophie and her husband Josh, were just new to the town after having a house built there. Julie gets these 3 ladies to start a group for her tourism idea.

    Once I got into the reading of the storyline, it was a definite page turner and I could not put the book down. .I found Bec’s husband to be a character that I disliked just on reading about him in the beginning.

    Reading about the bushfire that swept through the town would bring back memories to anyone that has been through a fire. Tears flowed as I kept reading.

    So many secrets and lies which made this a very suspenseful read and adrenalin kicked in with such a compelling storyline, written brilliantly by Fiona Lowe.

    The cover on the book certainly depicts the Australian bush exactly how it looks. It is a big read of 488 pages but well worth it.

    Thank you so much Beauty & Lace plus Harlequin books for such a memorable book to read.

  2. This book took me awhile to really get in to it but around chapter 12 it come together and i then I couldn’t put it down so to FIONA LOWE you have done it again with this beautiful book as like all of your other books and a big thank you to beauty and lace for the opportunity of picking me to let me read this book

    1. This was a great read but it was very hard to get into. I enjoyed it but i was glad to get to the end of it

  3. I loved this book! The different reactions each character had from the one life altering event was interesting to read. Also a little heart wrenching – I had tears multiple times.

    Comradery pulls them all together – highly recommend!

  4. It is always exciting reading a new author for the first time as is often opens up the opportunity to then read all their previous novels. I had started following Fiona Lowe as Birthright was on my to read pile and when I saw Home Fires come up as a Beauty and Lace read I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed and found Home Fires and beautiful and thought provoking novel.

    Home Fires is set in Myrtle a town in Victoria’s Otway Ranges, as the story is told the town comes to life in your imagination and whilst getting to know the characters you are getting to know the town. A bushfire tears through this beautiful community and lives are changed.

    The novel is based around three women – Claire, Sophie and Bec and how the fire impacted their lives and relationships.

    The thought provoking novel realistically portrays the post traumatic effects of natural disasters on people and their day to day lives. Claire refers to BF – before the fires and AF after the fires and something as simple as reaching for a favourite cooking knife only to realise it has been destroyed is her reality. “It was a day no one wanted to remember. A day no one could forget.”

    The story starts eighteen months after the fire when the government is opening the new stadium and celebrating how much has been rebuilt but the locals and the town are still suffering. The novel guides you through various timelines as we get to know each characters story – a year before the fires, six months after the fires, the present etc. this enables us to see the impact the fire has had on the character and her family. The women are bought together by Julie a member of the CWA to a craft group and the idea is formed to put Myrtle on the map and make the town great again.

    This novel captured me immediately and is one I highly recommend, thank you to Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction/Harlequin Australia for the chance to read this novel.

  5. I struggled with this review.
    Bushfires are a traumatic experience and when they are lethal,
    they can impact people on so many levels.
    Home Fires doesn’t touch on this subject,
    it slams a home run.
    A brides Wedding Day is disrupted when an out of control bushfire wipes out the town.
    Being a Nurse, she is called on to treat the wounded while sheltering in the local Fire Brigade Shed.
    Her Groom to be is out fighting the fire,
    while her parents leave the safety of their farm to attend their daughters Wedding.

    Home Fires switches backwards and forwards from before the fire, after the fire and during the fire.
    At first it is a bit hard to follow but then it meshes and you can follow it quite easily.
    This book follows the story of not just two people, there are quite a few main characters
    and touches on many different topics.
    A very emotional and thought provoking read.

    I did find that the ending has been left open for a sequel.
    and I know this book will appeal to alot of people,
    but I really need to sit down and reread it when I am not so rushed.

    1. Glad you think along my lines also Anne Maree with starting the book – it was a bit hard to follow at the beginning.

      I’d love a sequel to happen with this book for sure. Anything is possible.

      I too will reread this book and now that I know what the story is about, I might be able to understand the first half much better and not get as lost.

      1. I am looking forward to rereading Home Fires. I will make sure I am not rushed for time so can sit down and really get into it 🙂

  6. This book was absolutely amazing!! It really pulled at my heart strings and made me want to keep reading until I finished it. Fiona Lowe just keeps getting better!!

  7. I loved this book-Fiona Lowe is a brilliant story teller, who manages to intertwine a believable story with some wonderful characters, with lots of family secrets.
    She tells of the devastation of a fire. The impact it has on the community and how even in disaster some people manage to show their true colours.
    I have read her last few books- even though they are long they are easy to read.
    Would highly recommend. Great
    Thanks for the opportunity to review

  8. Thanks to Beauty and Lace Club and HQ Fiction I read Home Fires by Fiona Lowe. A novel based on a devastating bush fire that shocked a small town community in Victoria’s Otway Ranges. Unfortunately bush fires are a known Australian occurrence and something many Australian’s have been touched by or knows someone who has.

    Houses, buildings and lives were lost and so the rebuilding must begin. The story centres around a group of women that individually shows us what they are dealing with from fires and how being there for each other helps them answer some questions that the fires raised.

    There are a few plot twist and turns as the story goes along and while at almost 500 pages it seems like a big task to read it, the story is well written and doesn’t feel long. Home Fires was a great read.

  9. This is the first book of Fiona Lowe’s that I have read – I will definitely be searching out more of her books. This book gripped me from the first page. The characters are genuine and multilayered and these layers are slowly unraveled throughout the story. However, it’s not until closer to the end that you really appreciate how much depth these characters have been given. The range and depth of issues explored in this book is amazing undertaken with great sensitivity – and obviously a lot of research! The reader is introduced to a lot of characters very quickly and, when added to the intrigue, became confusing at times – a quick flick back through a few pages provided the reminder needed. The characters do fall in place very quickly though. This book is addictive and I stayed up late several nights. I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Thank you Harlequin Fiction and Beauty & Lace Book Club for introducing me to an amazing Australian author

  10. This was an outstanding novel filled with heartbreak, grief, tragedy, friendships and hope. It was written in 3 time periods which took a bit to get into especially as we were only fed bits of information about the main characters but this helped us get to know the very relatable women and their motivations. Fiona Lowe covered a lot of major problems that can occur after a devastating event such as a Bushfire. She handled things such as Mental Health, PTSD, Domestic Abuse, Guilt and much more in a very moving way which made me tear up at times. I would highly recommend this book and thank Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harlequin Fiction for the opportunity to read it.

  11. Home Fires is a story around a small country town called Myrtle and the lives of the people living there.

    The story begins eighteen months after a devastating bush fire that has flattened the town and it’s people. They have mostly picked up and rebuilt their town and their lives as best they can.

    Story lines go back and forth from before the fire to after the fire and to the present moment.
    These crossed time lines give a more in depth look into the character and you get to understand more as to who they are now and what life was like then to life now.

    When the town decides to bring back the tourists some of the women start a craft group. This group brings 5 women together who would not usually be together and it’s here friendships are make and secrets are exposed.

    There are many strongly written characters in the book and sometimes that many characters makes a book a bit confusing but Fiona has given each character a stage and a voice and never do you get lost or overwhelmed.
    Fiona has the ability to make each character so real and believable that you fall in love with the good and you won’t always like the bad.

    If you are looking for a strong story with love, loss, friendship and secrets then this is the perfect book for you.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for giving me this book to read.

  12. Home Fires. By Fiona Lowe

    The town of Myrtle, in Victoria’s Otway Ranges, was demolished by Bush fires. The story begins with the Public opening by a political Minister of the newly built Indoor Sport Stadium. We are introduced to a crowd of characters as the Opening occurs, and the ribbon is cut. Trying to work out who was who had me wondering if this book was a sequel to something that I hadn’t read, and this was confusing. But as the story goes on, we begin to pair up the couples, and follow their lives both before (BF) and after (AF) the fires.
    Claire, Bec and Sophie and their partners and families are the main characters. The book jumps back before the fire, forward 18 months, and then to the time of the bush fires, so it is important to the reader to note at the start of each chapter what time we are reading about. Once this becomes a habit, the story begins to make more sense, and the characters fill out and we learn why they react as they do. The fire fractured their lives and their relationships, and they all suffered differently. The scar tissue of trauma runs deep, and we agonise and cry as we follow the experiences of the townsfolk.
    Many lives were lost, only 2 buildings were left standing. The flurry of national attention means that Myrtle is rebuilt with shiny and new buildings. But the people cannot be restored like that, they all have their secrets, and Post Traumatic Stress is oh so very real.
    An exceptional, thought provoking account of life after a catastrophe. Once I got into this, I could not put the book down. At 487 pages it is a long read, but well worth it.
    Thank you to Beauty &Lace Book Club, and to HarperCollins books for the chance to read this. To the author Fiona Lowe, Thank You. This is the first of your books that I have read, but I have now bought Daughter of Mine and am ready to start that one.

  13. I was lucky enough to be chosen to read Home Fires by Fiona Lowe. I must admit I was having some trouble at the beginning of the book but once I got a few chapters in I was hooked and sorry that I was worried I would not enjoy it! The only thing I wasn’t 100% keen on was the way the book jumped around but this just required more concentration

    I really liked how you learned snippets of each of the ladies lives in the present and in the past. Each character really spoke to you in their own way whether you felt what they were feeling or you were the complete opposite.

    Home Fires made me laugh, it made me cry and it really made me think about things in my life and how I handle them

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Fiona Lowe for a great read!

  14. Quite a good book and story once you really get into it. A bit back and forth but overall Fiona Lowe continues to be a wonderful story writer. Very relatable, touching on emotions close to myself.
    Thanks so much for this book.

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