"There isn't anything in the world that hurts like a burn." No one knows the pain of a fire more than the women of the Keegan/O'Reilly clan. Read more...
"There isn't anything in the world that hurts like a burn." No one knows the pain of a fire more than the women of the Keegan/O'Reilly clan. Kathleen Donohoe's stunning debut novel brings to life seven unsentimental, wry, and evocative portraits of women from a family of firefighters. When we meet Norah -- the first member of her family to move from Ireland to New York -- she is a mother of three, contemplating her husband's casket as his men give him a full fireman's funeral, and faced with a terrible choice. Norah's mother-in-law, Delia, is stoic and self-preserving. Her early losses have made her keep her children close and her secrets closer. Eileen, Delia's daughter, adopted from Ireland and tough-as-nails, yet desperate for a sense of belonging, is one of the first women firefighters in New York. It is through her eyes that we experience 9/11, blindsided by the events of that terrible day along with her. Poignant, wise, and immersive, Ashes of Fiery Weather is a tour de force in the tradition of Let the Great World Spin, one that explores the emotional wounds and ultimate resilience of those drawn to fire, as well as the many ways we search for each other, and the many ways we hope to be rescued.
This item is Non-Returnable.
Fighting the fire
Kathleen Donohoe’s first novel, Ashes of Fiery Weather, introduces readers to the stubborn, courageous and sometimes flawed women of the Keegan/O’Reilly family. Central to the story is the evolution of firefighting, a multigenerational career that binds the family together.
Donohoe’s characters range across six generations, bound together by devotion, tradition and hardship. Each woman faces her own struggle, from Irish-born Norah, who must find a way to raise a family after her husband is killed in the line of duty, to her stubborn sister-in-law, Eileen, who fights to become one of the first female firefighters in New York City.
What makes Donohoe’s novel stand out from other family sagas is the authentic insight she brings to her work. Clearly inspired by the author’s own family history, Ashes of Fiery Weather at times feels more like a memoir than a work of fiction. The crowning achievement of the book, however, is Donohoe’s unaffected and chilling portrayal of the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Although readers will know what is coming, this does nothing to dim the force and shock of Donohoe’s depiction, told through the eyes of Eileen, one of the many firefighters on-site that day.
Ashes of Fiery Weather is a beautifully crafted story, one that serves not only as a homage to the legacy and traditions of New York firefighters, but also to the families who love, support and often mourn them. Donohoe has created an emotional, deeply moving work that will stay with readers long after the last page.