Excerpt from The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Great Fire

by Shirley Hazzard

The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2003, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2004, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Leith asked, "What were you reading?"

The soldier groped with free hand to the floor. "My girl sent it."

The same photograph: Oliver Leith at his desk. On the front cover, the white tide, cobalt sky, and snowbound Acropolis.

Leith brought out his own copy from a trenchcoat pocket.

"I'll be damned."

They laughed, coming alive out of khaki drab. The driver was possibly twenty: staunch body, plain pleasant face. Grey eyes, wide apart, wide awake. "You related?"

"My father."

"I'm damned."

They were near the waterfront now, following the bed of some derelict subsidiary railway. The joltings might have smashed a rib cage. You could just see an arc of coastal shapes, far out from ruined docks: hills with rare lights and a black calligraphy of trees fringing the silhouettes of steep islands. The foreground reality, a wartime shambles of a harbour with its capsized shipping, was visible enough, and could, in that year, have been almost anywhere on earth.

The driver was peering along the track. "Write yourself?"

"Not in that way."

"Never too late."

The boy plainly considered his passenger past the stage of revelations. A dozen years apart in age, they were conclusively divided by war. The young soldier, called to arms as guns fell silent, was at peace with this superior -- civil and comradely, scarcely saluting or saying Sir, formalities no longer justified. Intuitively, too, they shared the unease of conquerors: the unseemliness of finding themselves few miles from Hiroshima.

"How do you manage here?" The man had a deep, low voice. If one had to put a colour to it, it would have been dark blue; or what people in costly shops call burgundy.

Copyright © 2003 Shirley Hazzard. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Ghachar Ghochar
    by Vivek Shanbhag
    The Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) that has dominated economic news headlines over the past decade is the...
  • Book Jacket: Caught in the Revolution
    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport
    So taken were BookBrowse's First Impression reviewers by the inside look at the start of the Russian...
  • Book Jacket: Hillbilly Elegy
    Hillbilly Elegy
    by J.D. Vance
    In this illuminating memoir, Vance recounts his trajectory from growing up a "hillbilly" in ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -