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Firefly Lane Hardcover – February 5, 2008
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From the New York Times bestselling author of On Mystic Lake comes a powerful novel of love, loss, and the magic of friendship. . . .
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
So begins Kristin Hannah’s magnificent new novel. Spanning more than three decades and playing out across the ever-changing face of the Pacific Northwest, Firefly Lane is the poignant, powerful story of two women and the friendship that becomes the bulkhead of their lives.
From the beginning, Tully is desperate to prove her worth to the world. Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she longs to be loved unconditionally. In the glittering, big-hair era of the eighties, she looks to men to fill the void in her soul. But in the buttoned-down nineties, it is television news that captivates her. She will follow her own blind ambition to New York and around the globe, finding fame and success . . . and loneliness.
Kate knows early on that her life will be nothing special. Throughout college, she pretends to be driven by a need for success, but all she really wants is to fall in love and have children and live an ordinary life. In her own quiet way, Kate is as driven as Tully. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and mother will change her . . . how she’ll lose sight of who she once was, and what she once wanted. And how much she’ll envy her famous best friend. . . .
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship---jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart . . . and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test.
Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you---and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you. Firefly Lane is a story you’ll never forget . . . one you’ll want to pass on to your best friend.
"When She Returned" by Lucinda Berry for $8.99
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A Conversation with Kristin Hannah
Amazon.com: Why did you choose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane? Is there something unique about growing up in the Northwest that helped you to define the kind of women Kate and Tully become?
Kristin Hannah: Quite simply, I chose Seattle as the backdrop for Firefly Lane because it's so much a part of who I am. I've lived in the Northwest for most of my life, and obviously, in all those years, I've seen this part of the country evolve from an undiscovered gem into the Emerald City. So many of the places from my youth are gone, or changed, or moved, and I guess I wanted to remember the physical reminders of those bygone days. And while Kate and Tully are absolutely Northwest girls, I like to think their story will speak to women who grew up in vastly different, more populated areas. After all, it's ultimately about friendship, and those seeds can be planted anywhere.
Amazon.com: While you were writing, at any point did you find yourself feeling more sympathetic to Kate or to Tully? How did you keep the weight of the plot balanced between them as their stories evolved?
KH: There's no way to avoid the truth that Kate is more than a little like me. Thus, I identified with her from the very beginning--she was the small town girl who had to get up in the pre-dawn hours to feed her horses, and read The Lord of the Rings during every family vacation, and felt lost in the first few months at the sprawling University of Washington. All of that was me, so naturally, the problem was not in feeling sympathetic toward Katie; it was much more about holding her at arm's length, seeing her not as an extension of myself, but as a completely fictional woman. Tully was a different story entirely. While many readers might be surprised by this, I really fell in love with Tully. In the final analysis, she's one of my favorite characters of all time. I know she's bold and selfish and myopic and ambitious to a fault, but she's also terribly broken, wounded by her parents, unable to believe in love, and ultimately very real. I think all of us know a "Tully" in our lives, and they bring a lot of drama...and a lot of fire and sparkle.
Amazon.com: You have a beautiful way of showing both the tension and tenderness between mothers and daughters. Was it a challenge to write Tully's painful history with her own mother, and later, the conflict that builds between Kate and her own daughter?
KH: Honestly, I believe that the mother-daughter relationship is magical, complex, potentially dangerous, profoundly powerful, and deeply transformative. To put it simply, all of us have this relationship, and in a very real way, "none of us comes out alive." We are all formed first as daughters and then tested as mothers. There's nothing like motherhood to make us reassess how we were as daughters. One of my favorite parts of Firefly Lane was the circle of Kates relationship with her mom. First we see her as an angry teen, slamming the door on her mother...and then later her own daughter does the same thing to her. There's a real symmetry in that, a truth that many of us have learned. I have often wished in the past few years that my mom were here to help me as I raised my own teenage son. As a girl, with my own mom, I thought I knew it all; now I know better. Somewhere, I know my mom is smiling.
Amazon.com: Throughout the novel, both Kate and Tully question the reliability of love. Is it that question that creates the rift between them and, ultimately, reunites them in friendship?
KH: You're right, they each do continually question the reliability of love. For Kate, it's a self-esteem issue. She absolutely believes in love--she's grown up surrounded by it--but she constantly questions Johnny's commitment to her. I always felt that was largely because she felt like a moon to Tully's bright and shining sun. For Tully, she honestly doesnt believe that true romantic love exists, and for all of her overblown ambition and belief in herself, she has been wounded by her mother's repeated abandonment. The result is that she feels she's unlovable.
Amazon.com: Kate and Tully are each big personalities in their own way. Was it hard to create male characters who really understand them?
KH:The challenge with regard to male characters was not so much creating men who understood Kate and Tully, it was rather to create love stories that equaled the power and emotional intensity of the friendship. After all, the men in the story were important--Johnny particularly--but it was really a story about the women.
Amazon.com: When Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone first came out, many readers were shocked that a man could write such an intimate portrait of a woman. Do you think women are in fact the best writers of women's fiction? Would you ever consider writing a novel where men take center stage?
KH: One of the great things about being a writer is that we get the chance to inhabit the minds and souls of a variety of individuals. I really don't think male/female is the central question in terms of the viability of a voice and/or vision. We writers can "become" murderers, animals, psychopaths, vampires, lawyers, doctors, wizards, children. In short, our storytelling skills and character-building abilities are limited only by our own imaginations. Until recently, most of my novels--while female-centric in vision--were equally narrated by male characters, and one--Angel Fallswas primarily narrated by men. I didn't see the writing of that any different than anything else.
Amazon.com: Do you see yourself as a writer of romance or women's fiction? What do you see as the differences in these two genres--is one an evolution of the other, or is the label unimportant?
KH: I began as a romance author and moved into women's fiction about ten years ago. While many definitions abound, mine is this: romance is a subsection of the broad, all-inclusive women's commercial fiction market. Women's fiction in general is not an evolution of romance; much of women's fiction is completely unrelated to any romantic elements. However, it is true that many current commercial women's fiction authors began in romance.
Amazon.com:Many women read fictional romance to escape the stress of everyday life and find inspiration in a happy ending. Is there a primary experience that you hope your readers will have after reading Firefly Lane?
KH: I am a sucker for a happy ending myself. In fact, my husband and I often go round and round about movies in which I hate the ending and he loves it. He always says I'm only comfortable with happy ever after, but that's not true. What I want is an emotionally satisfying, organic ending. I want to be totally engaged until the last page, and I want to believe every moment up until I close the book. Sometimes I want to laugh, sometimes I want to cry, and sometimes I want to scream that it cant really be over. (Harry Potter comes to mind on this one). The point is, I want to be moved deeply. That's what I look for in other books and what I hope to deliver in my own.
Just FYI, here are some of my favorite endings: Gone With the Wind, Middlemarch, Prince of Tides, An Inconvenient Wife, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, It, Shadow of the Wind. Some are happy, some are sad, some are bittersweet. All are memorable.
Amazon.com: If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be, and what would you ask them?
KH: There are, of course, dozens of choices here, and I could certainly go through the classics and come up with many names and questions, but the truth is that I would love to sit down with Stephen King and listen to some rock and roll, and ask him how in the world he has stayed so good for so long.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press; First Edition (February 5, 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312364083
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312364083
- Lexile measure : HL730L
- Item Weight : 1.7 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.94 x 1.65 x 9.13 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #129,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
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Tully and Kate couldn't be more different, but when Tully moves in across the street from Kate in 1974 Kate's world will never be the same. Kate is not in the popular group, which as you know is a death sentence in middle school. Tully is new to town and she's different, which makes her a novelty and an instant popular girl. Kate is curious and watches her house with wonder. One night purely by accident after a tragic event Tully runs into Kate and they strike up a conversation. Tully shares her traumatic incident with Kate and the bond of friendship is formed with the secret. They are now and forever best friends and become known as TullyandKate.
Kate's mom is a typical stay at home mom who works hard to keep her children on the right path. She's always doing what's best for her children and worries Tully may be a bad influence on her daughter. Tully's mom is an alcoholic and drug addict who barely knows her daughter exists. Tully has no relationship with her and is shuffled back and forth to her grandmother's house whenever her mom decides to just leave, with no explanation. Tully is always hoping for more from her mom, but her mom doesn't have the capacity to care. Kate's family eventually rushes in to help Tully and opens up her world to what family really means.
The two girls, now women go their separate ways after college. Tully is all about her career in journalism and gaining fame and wealth, Kate on the other hand enjoys writing, but quietly wants love, marriage and children, not the most popular choice for women in the 80's, but it is what it is. She begins working with Tully in the journalism field, but her heart is not in it. Tully goes on to become a national star in the news world and Kate settle down to become a wonderful wife and mother, with all the challenges and joys that brings.
This book really got to me. I don't cry over books, until now. I saw myself so much in this book it was scary. I was a fourteen year old, as Tully and Kate were in 1974 when the world seemed so hard for a teen, when every decision seemed to be so big and came with such consequences that you second guessed every one. The songs Hannah mentioned, the foods she brought up and even the language the girls spoke were the ones I knew and spoke myself. I had a best friend that I got into "trouble" with, I drove my mother to distraction, I pushed every limit and I survived. I'm sorry to say I lost contact with my best friend after college, but this was part of the reason for my tears. I missed out on the rest of what could have been a lifetime of memories with her. I did reach out to her on FB after I read the book, still waiting to hear back. Another amazing part of the book, for me anyway is the unsung heroes, stay at home moms! If you've raised a teen daughter or are in the process of doing so, CONGRATULATIONS! When my daughter was a teen I was sure she was abducted by aliens and replaced with a being I did not know! It was the most challenging time of motherhood for me. I worked full time while raising children, but I admire women who choose to be full time moms, I couldn't do it. It's ten times harder than going to work everyday! They all deserve medals and hazard pay!
If you've ever had a best friend who has been there through thick and thin, has been your secret keeper, your dance partner, or even your therapist this one is for you. If you've raised a teen girl and think it's just you or your daughter, this one's for you. And if you want a book that will take you on a journey through every emotion you can feel, this one's for you. It's a masterpiece of love, friendship, family, hardship, redemption and hope and I loved every single word. I've loved Kristin Hannah for years and always find her books to be moving, with each one better than the last. This one really got to me and I can't wait to read the sequel! It was so fitting that I finished it on the first day of the new year, it just seemed like the perfect look back on my memories to get a better understanding of why I am who I am in this time and I am reminded that I too was once a teenage girl who drove her mother nuts! Happy Reading!
Overall, good read, I just wish the characters developed more, and the last 100 pages were repetitive and it could’ve ended a lot sooner.
During all three time periods, you will feel entertained. I like that Hannah used real-life experiences and made them effective for the reader to get lost in another reality. In every part of Tully and Kate's adventures, I feel like I am with them, silently watching as a background character. I am engrossed in the story and dialogue when they're kids riding bikes, dancing at a bar, or going through a heated argument.
Kristin Hannah put her strongest effort into crafting believable, in-depth characters. Tully and Kate have likable qualities while also showing unlikeable moments, which I feel is very human. Personally, I like Kate much more than I do Tully, but qualities of Tully I'm able to see in myself. Both of the main characters stay true to who they are while gradually growing and developing through the years.
The plot of Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah tells a cohesive story through the lives of the two main protagonists. It starts in the 70s, then makes its way through the 80s and 90s to finish the reader with the early 2000s. The sequence of events makes perfect sense. The story is always moving forward. Change occurs after each chapter. Technically, there are plot twists in this novel, and each time they are gut-wrenching.
Writing Style: star
The only critique I can come up with for Firefly Lane is once in a while, the point of view can be cloudy (mom pun not intended). The chapters don't have character names like other novels. One moment you are reading about Kate, and then the next paragraph in the same chapter can flip to Tully's point of view. It isn't super confusing for the most part, but something that I think is worth noting. Everything else about the author's sentence flow and word choice in the book is magnificent.
Finished Product: star
Reading through almost five hundred pages, I did not catch one editing mistake. The design of the book not only makes sense to the story but is beautifully done. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah is the perfect book to snuggle under blankets in bed or next to a fireplace and read for hours.
Let Me Be Frank Rating for Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
5 out of 5 stars
Regardless of Frank's rating, you should check out the book for yourself: Firefly Lane: A Novel: Hannah, Kristin: 9780312537074: Amazon.com: Books
Be sure to check out all of Frank's other book ratings: Book Reviews Archives - Frank Anthony (letmebefrankanthony.com)
Top reviews from other countries
I’ve had so many memories flying through my head as I read the story of Kate and Tully. The nature of Kates character and her ability to be the peacemaker, combined with Tully’s bold as brass, yet extremely vulnerable personality reminded me of myself from being a child, to a teenager and hating my mother, to now as a mother and grown woman myself.
It felt as if I were right there, watching time go by and being immersed in the scene, right there with them. This book made me laugh, cry, shout, scream and then melancholy. Finally, it made me feel at peace but with determination.
All I can say is if you love a story that will make you feel as if you’re living it as you read, combined with characters as relatable and familiar as old friends and that has the ability to take your emotions and throw them in a blender so you can’t tell what you feel;
Then read this book.