-Excellent . . . Over the course of the novel we come to know intimately these three complicated women.--- Chicago Tribune
-Whip smart and cunning, deeply funny and profoundly moving . Read more...
-Excellent . . . Over the course of the novel we come to know intimately these three complicated women.---Chicago Tribune
-Whip smart and cunning, deeply funny and profoundly moving . . . A knockout.---Megan Abbott, author of The Fever
When college roommates Anna and Kate find Georgiana Leoni passed out on a lawn, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire at a New England mansion. What came between--the wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and one night that changed everything--is the witty, poignant story of our strongest friendships, the people who know us better than we know ourselves. Anna is the de facto leader, as fearless as she is reckless. Quirky Kate is the loyal sidekick, until she's pushed too far. And stunning George is always desired, but just as frequently dumped. Alive with Lutz's crackling dialogue and propulsive storytelling, How to Start a Fire pulls us into the tangled bond shared by three intelligent, distinctive, and deeply real women and pays homage to the abiding, irrational love we have for the family we choose.
-Lutz joins the ranks of authors who write deeply and sensitively about the shadowy yet life-affirming terrain of female friendship.---Globe & Mail
-Lutz hits a home run in this glorious exploration of friendship . . . she] portrays three fully drawn, flawed, and compelling women with fresh insight into the mysterious terrain of female friendships--a mix of shared experiences, affection, empathy, jealousy, anger, and love.---Publishers Weekly, starred review
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Bestselling author Lutz (the Spellman Files series) hits a home run in this glorious exploration of friendship, which follows the trajectory of three college friends over 20 years. First there’s Kate Smirnoff (yes, “like the vodka,” she proclaims) raised by her grandfather after her parents’ accidental death when she was eight, destined to own her family’s business, a diner in Santa Cruz. There’s Anna Fury, an independent woman (yet needy for love) who eschews her upper-class background and has a penchant for adventure that almost upends her life. And then there’s George (Georgiana) Leoni, a gorgeous outdoorsy type with an uncanny perception about what makes people tick, yet who keeps falling for the wrong man. A traumatic event in their 20s binds the three women, and Lutz, moving back and forth in time, brilliantly intertwines their lives over the next two decades, as Kate leaves her sheltered life and explores the world, Anna pursues an M.D., and George becomes a forest ranger. The author portrays three fully drawn, flawed, and compelling women with fresh insight into the mysterious terrain of female friendships—a mix of shared experiences, affection, empathy, jealousy, anger, and love. (May)
Three college friends take on adulthood
Screenwriter and author Lisa Lutz is well known for her zany mystery series starring Izzy Spellman, private eye. Here she jumps into mainstream women’s fiction with How to Start a Fire, an engaging portrait of female friendship spanning two decades. In 1993, when all three are students at UC Santa Cruz, freshman roommates Kate and Anna find George passed out on the lawn outside the party they had all attended. The three young women quickly become friends during their undergraduate years and beyond, the bonds between them tightening and loosening over the years.
Anna comes from a wealthy Boston family—her father preoccupied with business, her mother with shopping and keeping up appearances. Kate’s parents died when she was 8, and she was raised by her very traditional Czech grandfather. Her highest ambition is to eventually take over the family diner, where she has worked since she was 12. George, the gorgeous, athletic basketball player, is the outdoorsy type, working toward a forestry degree.
Just before graduation, Kate’s grandfather dies, sending her into a downward spiral of “retirement,” which consists mainly of watching TV for 12 hours at a stretch. At about the same time, George finds out her parents are divorcing due to her father’s infidelities. And Anna, who takes a fifth year to get a chemistry minor to bolster her med school applications, develops a serious drinking problem—leading to an episode involving all three women which will haunt them for at least the next 15 years.
Lutz gives the reader sporadic glimpses into their lives over that time frame, as they come together, drift apart and repeat the process over moves, marriages, adventures, tragedies and professional pitfalls. With wit and a gift for capturing the repartee between siblings and old friends, Lutz brings us a memorable and ultimately uplifting saga of three strong, unique women.