December 18, 2008

Review: The Fireman's Wife

The Fireman's Wife
by Jack Riggs

Though I finished reading this book over the weekend I have put off reviewing it because of the ambiguous feelings I had for it. That is not to say that the book was ambiguous but that my feelings were so stirred and rushing around that I couldn't tell exactly what I felt. After four days, I still can't.

This is the story of Peck and Cassie and the bad place that they find themselves in when 15 years of marriage are on the verge of collapse. They were married when Cassie was disowned by her father after finding out she was pregnant from a summer fling at the young age of 18. For 15 years Cassie has felt isolated and neglected in the swampy coastal South Carolina low country, the victim to her husband's demanding job and closed up personality. Now she has run off to start a new life, taking their very angry teen aged daughter with her. But being without Peck leaves her feeling even more unsettled and confused. Can their marriage be saved?

This is 300 pages of mostly introspective writing. The characters are flawed in both believable and unbelievable ways. I could never tell if I thought they were genuine or not. And I kept waiting for action but it never really delivered. Even the big action scene near the end wasn't action-packed. There were some "spiritual" elements that were open for interpretation. Was it supernatural interference or just coincidence? And the ending was a bit difficult for me to swallow. Near the end is the area filled with the most unbelievable elements but I can't give an example without giving away a major spoiler.

The book was a good example of location as a character. Though I have never been to the East Coast I could picture both the marshes and the mountains. Also, I think the way the chapters move back and forth between Peck and Cassie were an effective way of telling their story, getting both perspectives and seeing both of their vulnerable sides. I liked Peck, and I thought the daughter, Kelly, had spunk. She needed more discipline but you could understand her anger. To be fair, her parents weren't acting any better.

But to get back to the point, did I actually like it? I did, I think. Despite all of its little flaws it did feel like it could have happened, mostly. Would I recommend it? Probably only to those who, like me, love a character driven novel. Unfortunately, I'm afraid most people aren't going to stick with it long enough to get to know the characters and care what happens to them.

Buy this book at Amazon.


Jeane said...

It sounds emotionally involving, but troublesome as well. I don't know if I'd stick it out to the end. I'm curious what the supernatural/spiritual elements were, but don't want you to give anything away!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Good review. It's hard sometimes with a character-driven novel. The characters darn well better be strong or the whole thing just flops.
I like how you wrote this review....nice job!