Summary and book reviews of Firebird by Janice Graham

Firebird

by Janice Graham

Firebird
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1998, 301 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 1999, 335 pages

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Book Summary

In the tradition of The Horse Whisperer comes a novel from the heart that tells a story of universal truths--of the love between men and women and mothers and daughters.

In the tradition of The Horse Whisperer comes a novel from the heart that tells a story of universal truths--of the love between men and women and mothers and daughters; of passion that transcends tragedy; of promises made and promises kept. Janice Graham's Firebird is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel that will be published around the world and has been named a main selection of the Literary Guild, already marking this as one of the most noteworthy debuts of 1998 and assuring Graham a brilliant future as a greatly beloved storyteller.

Set in the majestic Flint Hills of Kansas, Firebird tells of a man caught between two women—one who shares his life and his dream of land and cattle; the other a stranger whose love threatens to destroy the dream he has built. Ethan Brown is a gentleman rancher—an Ivy-educated lawyer who is as comfortable amongst his books as he is at ease in the company of cowboys. Engaged to the daughter of the wealthiest landowner in the county, he is within reach of the life he has worked so hard to achieve. Annette Zeldin enters Ethan's life when she returns from Europe to settle her mother's estate. A concert violinist, she feels every inch the outsider in the closed ranching community of Cottonwood Falls and clings to her darling young daughter, her lifeline. The time Annette spends with Ethan in his office offers her moments of comfort and communion, and before long, both must acknowledge the passion growing between them.

Annette and Ethan begin a clandestine, transcendent affair that promises to change the landscape of their lives, but is too soon torn apart by tragedy. Yet their connection is soul-deep and everlasting, and their love transforms the lives of those around them in ways subtle and unknown long after its embers have died down. Graham skillfully infuses the novel with ethereal touches that transport the reader from the vast prairies of the Midwest to the intimate realm of the heart. Firebird is a novel that richly articulates the enduring possibilities of love; it is a novel impossible to forget.

Chapter One

So far as we know, no modern poet has written of the Flint Hills, which is surprising since they are perfectly attuned to his lyre. In their physical characteristics they reflect want and despair. A line of low-flung hills stretching from the Osage Nation on the south to the Kaw River on the north, they present a pinched and frowning face to those who gaze on them. Their verbiage is scant. jagged rocks rise everywhere to their surface.
The Flint Hills never laugh. In the early spring when the sparse grass first turns to green upon them, they smile saltily and sardonically. But as spring turns to summer, they grow sullen again and hopeless.
Death is no stranger to them.

JAY E. HOUSE
Philadelphia Public Ledger (1931)


Ethan Brown was in love with the Flint Hills. His father had been a railroad man, not a rancher, but you would have thought he had been born into a dynasty of men connected to this land, the way he loved it. He loved it the way certain ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  1. The book's title evokes the legend of the phoenix, a mythological bird that burned to death on a pyre, only to be resurrected and reborn. How does Janice Graham adapt and adopt the story of the phoenix? How are the elements of sacrifice in the phoenix legend echoed in Firebird?

  2. Like every responsible rancher, Ethan must burn his fields in order to clear the way for new life. What other characters destroy their old lives--or parts of their old lives--so that new ones may emerge? Are they always successful? How are the practices of farming and ranching appropriate metaphors for these characters' re-creations and rebirths?

  3. The novel suggests the possibility of redemption in both sacred and everyday ways. ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Janice Graham's dexterous storytelling pulls at the heartstrings, and her evocations of the wind and skies over the Kansas prairie give an extra dimension to a multifaceted love story that's sure to be a strong contender for the women's fiction hit of the season.

Author Blurb Mary Higgins Clark
Firebird is the debut of a major writer. A tender and beautifully written adult love story.

Author Blurb LaVyrle Spencer
Janice Graham writes the way I like books written. She knows her characters and where they're going, and moves them through the story with terse, touching prose. What's even better, she brings tears to the eyes.

Author Blurb Eileen Goudge
What a page-turner! Not only believable and compelling, but well written enough to satisfy fans of the likes of Alice Hoffman and Barbara Kingsolver.

Reader Reviews

Resmi C.V

Review
Life, at times, may give you what you want. But, most of the time, it gives you what you need! I read this book at a time when my life was at crossroads. There were a lot of choices I had to make and none of them were easy, atleast they were not for ...   Read More

Alana

i loved this novel!!!!

Anonymous

This book contains a magical story brought to life in such a convincing way that I feel honored to now have these characters to take with me wherever I go. Reading this book humbled and inspired me to look at life and creativity in a way I have not ...   Read More

Mary Beth Bennett

I've been listening to this Novel on audiotape during my commute to and from work,
I've been drawn to the the characters and rich images like a moth to flame.
I anticipate the ending and the next novel from this author.

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