Review: Fiona Lowe – Home Fires

Home Fires
Fiona Lowe

Sophie’s wish to stay home with the kids in a beautiful custom built home is grounded when she finds herself living in a metal shed after a set of devastating fires sweep through the town of Myrtle. Meanwhile Claire is facing the realities of losing her parents from the same disaster, while Bec lost a dream. Craft group gives them a chance to get to know one another better, but can they face up to their losses and be honest? Or will the dirty little secrets of their town get the better of them.

At the very beginning of this novel I was bewildered by the number of characters that I was going to have to keep track of. I thought of drawing a mind-map in fact! Slowly though I kept track of the three main women and their important connections – Sophie, Claire and Bec. I generally enjoyed the past interspersed with the present, and found that although the past parts could have been excluded, they added a depth to the current day fears of the women (and men).

I’m not certain this novel gives men enough credit. It seems that the women are the ones moving on with their lives, while the men are hanging in the past. I found myself slightly unsatisfied with the jump forward in time and thus abrupt ending to the novel. I found it hard to believe that Josh went from coping and enjoying a full time job to barely holding down a part-time position. However, my knowledge of PTSD  limited at best. I can only imagine that this highly experienced author did her own research and brought the novel to its logical (in her mind) conclusion).

Those familiar with Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday will recognize the sober commentary on the unpreparedness of the Myrtle township for the impending doom of the fires. The town and its people are not warned in advance, in in fact their firefighting capacity is dealing with other fires. I’d recommend this novel for anyone interested in the fires of Marysville, or fires in general. It’s a touching novel that has an important place in Australian fiction. 4 stars from me.

HQ Fiction | 18th February 2019 | AU$32.99 | paperback

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