Title: Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Family Saga
Firefly Lane is a stunning and heartbreaking novel that chronicles a tale of lifelong female friendship and the intricacies of day-to-day life.
SPOILER LEVEL: LOW | This review contains minor details about the characters and plot of this novel that can be found in the blurb.
Kristin Hannah perfectly encapsulates real life into fiction. At the midpoint of her books, you have to remind yourself that this is indeed a work of fiction, not a dual narrative autobiography. Her characters, her stories, are so well-crafted, so detailed and believable, that is hard to imagine that these characters aren’t real, that the events of their lives didn’t really happen. Tully and Kate are two of the most real characters I’ve ever come across in fiction and I fell in love with them slowly, over the course of the novel, which spanned several decades, until they felt like old friends I’d known for years. They creep up on you, unknowingly, and it’s difficult to even realise that Kristin Hannah has hold of your heart until she crushes it.
I love Kristin Hannah’s prose. Her work in The Nightingale was beautiful and Firefly Lane was no different. Beautiful descriptions, vivid imagery and a way of perfectly capturing emotion. I loved the dual narrative–getting to know Tully and Kate separately–and the way that tensions would be heightened by a switch of perspective. Firefly Lane chronicles Tully and Kate’s adolescence and adulthood, their journey of growth and majority, the paths that they take and the lives they choose to lead. This novel takes place over around 30 years and Kristin Hannah captured the passing of time beautifully. The relationship between them was brilliant, at times tumultuous, but you always knew they’d have each other’s back. I really loved the way Kristin Hannah presented different paths, particularly for women, and didn’t criticise either or present one as superior–they both had their ups and downs, but they were always applauded for the choices they made.
I don’t cry often at books and at two points in this novel I was almost in tears, so that is an achievement. There aren’t many books that make my heart drop in the way that Kristin Hannah made it at an event around halfway into the book – if you’ve read it, you’ll hopefully know what I’m talking about. And then, by the end, I was almost crying again. This is a heart-breaking read and pretty hard-hitting by the end, but it is worth it if you’re able to get through it. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t even realise that Kristin Hannah is crushing your heart until it’s too late, but I guarantee you will be a pile of mush by the end.
Another aspect that really heightened the heartbreaking aspect of this novel was the audiobook. I didn’t have a physical copy (I’ve since bought one as it is one I’d like to reread it and I also bought the sequel, which I’ll mention later) so I listened to it on Scribd. The audiobook was incredible. The amount of emotion displayed by the narrator was just amazing. If a character’s voice broke, the narrators’ would, and it is was one specific moment when one of the main character’s voice broke on a sentence that just got me. I really do recommend the audiobook, even if you read along. Also, it was only a single narrator despite the dual perspective and I never found the voices confusing; it was easy to tell when the perspective was Tully and when it was Kate.
So, if you want your heart broken into little tiny pieces and a beautiful story of a lifelong friendship between two women and the lives they chose to lead, I’d highly recommend this book. And there is a sequel that deals with the aftermath of Firefly Lane (i.e. the mush of reader’s hearts), called Fly Away, which I hope to read next month. Don’t search for Fly Away though unless you’ve read Firefly Lane–the blurb contains MAJOR spoilers.
I will definitely be reading the rest of Kristin Hannah’s books. Slowly, as there are a lot of them. Fortunately, quite a few of them are available Scribd–maybe I’ll read like one a month or something.
Have you read this, or any of Kristin Hannah’s books? Do you plan to?