eBook review copy: 384 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062499745
Night of Fire by Colin Thubron is a recommended story of seven lives.
The old Victorian house that was divided into apartments years ago is on fire. Night of Fire delves into the lives of the tenants who will be dying in the fire on this night. The inhabitants whose life stories are told include a failed priest, a neurosurgeon, a naturalist, a photographer, a school boy, a traveller, and the landlord. The landlord has two chapters, one at the beginning and the end. The rest of the victims and their lives are covered in long chapters devoted to them. The basement tenant is mentioned, but as a victim who died immediately. Thubron uses the musings and recollections of these people to explore life's essential questions, memories and seeking answers to find a deeper meaning in their existence. All of them are either named Steven or some derivative of the name: Stephen, Steve, Stephanie.
While beautifully written, I was left detached and unable to connect with the stories of these people. The setting, in a burning house, where you know these people are all going to die, never coalesced for me into a cohesive whole. The long chapters on the lives of these various tenants are all like short stories until their fate is met. I would concede that perhaps I need to contemplate Night of Fire more to divulge more meaning and connections between characters, but it also left me with no burning desire to do so. The rating is based on the quality of the writing and the fact that I found some of the stories very intriguing and captivating, just not all of them.
Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.