How to Start a Fire

How to Start a Fire

3.6 5
by Lisa Lutz
     
 

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 “How to Start a Fire will keep you captivated from beginning to end.”—Town & Country

“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

Overview

 “How to Start a Fire will keep you captivated from beginning to end.”—Town & Country

“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

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/23/2015
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)
From the Publisher
"Few books have so expertly captured the intricacies and complexities of female friendship. Whipsmart and cunning, deeply funny and profoundly moving, Lisa Lutz’s How to Start A Fire is a knockout."—Megan Abbott, author of The Fever

"A tale of female friendship and the families we choose for ourselves, How to Start a Fire will keep you captivated from beginning to end."—Town & Country, "9 of the Best Beach Reads for 2015"

“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
 
“The characters are marvelous...relatable and fully dimensional. This is an absorbing tale that will satisfy Spellman fans as well as women’s fiction readers who like a good ensemble story.”—Booklist, STARRED

"Simply put, one of the best and smartest novels about female friendship I've read in ages. Anna, Kate, and George are women we know, we are, we cheer for but also cringe at. Just like life, in all of its messiness."—Sarah Weinman, Publishers Lunch, "Favorite Books of 2015, From the News Editor"

"With this novel, Lutz joins the ranks of authors who write deeply and sensitively about the shadowy yet life-affirming terrain of female friendship. The characters are perfect because they are flawed and real and kind and cruel. And the story delivers staggering insights into the consequences of choice, no matter how insignificant a moment may seem at the time, as well as the meaning of forgiveness and the ways in which friends can become more like family than our own blood relations – for better or for worse."—Globe & Mail

"Engaging portrait of female friendship...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."—BookPage

“A great choice for fans of women's lit and anyone who enjoys books about female friendship.”—Pensacola News Journal
Library Journal
★ 04/01/2015
Anna and Kate were randomly matched as roommates by their college, then they found Georgianna passed out on a neighbor's front lawn on the way home from a party. When George woke up the next morning, these three completely different personalities began a friendship that would last for decades to come. Die-hard fans of Lutz (author of "The Spellman Files" series and Heads You Lose with David Hayward) may be expecting something other than the story found here, but there's little chance of disappointment. Delivered in short chapters that move between the present and the past, the book shows readers results before actions, building a sense of intrigue up to the singular event that changed everything. The main characters are developed through vignettes in various stages of their lives, showing that they are as realistically flawed as they are emotionally engaging. VERDICT Any reader who enjoys a strong character study or the opportunity to discuss how small choices can have lasting impact will absorb every bit of this book with genuine gratification.—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
2015-02-17
Three friends try to muddle through their complicated lives.Kate Smirnoff, Anna Fury, and Georgianna "George" Leoni become friends at UC Santa Cruz in the early 1990s. Almost immediately after becoming a trio, they take a road trip to hike among the giant coastal redwoods of Northern California. George is pretty and athletic; Kate is an expert on redwoods, a topic which is just one in a long line of quirky obsessions; and intelligent, ambitious Anna turns out to be a raging alcoholic. Over the next two decades, the women will find opportunities to reconnect as their lives, and the nature of their friendship, carry on in a constant state of flux. They fall in and out of marriages, careers, cities, and winning or losing sides of battles with their personal demons. There is also a pivotal instance of violence, revealed about halfway through the book, which forever changes their friendship. Unfortunately, that moment comes after the book's structural flaws are already too obvious, the narrative becoming such a disjointed collage that it's hard for the reader to establish any cause and effect. Lutz doesn't allow these women to spend enough time in one place to make them come to life as individuals or as friends. There are coy hints at a plot that never materializes. The chapters jump wildly back and forth from one year, one point of view, one setting to another, with a parade of characters that whisks by at a dizzying speed, until the book becomes little more than a list of names and places. This novel is instantly forgettable. Fans and curious new readers should stick to Lutz's bestselling Izzy Spellman mystery series (The Last Word, 2013, etc.).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544705180
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/17/2016
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
164,500
Product dimensions:
11.10(w) x 16.50(h) x 5.90(d)

Meet the Author

LISA LUTZ is the New York Times best-selling author of the six novels in the Spellman Files series and Heads You Lose (with David Hayward). Lutz has won the Alex Award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in upstate New York.


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How to Start a Fire 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
debrareadsalot More than 1 year ago
First off...I love Lisa Lutz's writing. She has a knack for her style of writing shown with the Spellman series. I enjoyed that series because of that very style. It was different than most things I read. I read a lot of biographies and When I need a break from that reading I break it up with mysteries. That is how I found her originally. "How to Start a Fire" takes a break from her Spellman style of writing. For better or for worse she broke with a successful style. I can understand why she might want to do that. No one wants to be boxed in as having only one way of being. However, this book was so different I don't know what to say. I would not have read it at all if it hadn't been for the author's name. The characters are odd, which is a good way to begin a book. But the "odd" was off-putting. At some point in fiction the reader wants to find a "fit" with one of the characters to my way of thinking. And I didn't find a fit. I hope Lisa Lutz continues to write. I think I will continue to read her books but I won't jump at the chance to read one as quickly as I did this time. I had a pre-sale chance and I took it. I won't do that again with her books. I'll wait and see.
Anonymous 4 months ago
In my opinion the story was difficult to follow because it jumped back and forth from year to year. I had a difficult time reading it to the very end, but I finally managed
Anonymous 5 months ago
I suppose the characters, their interactions, their relationships, and their ongoing life stories could have been interesting, but the never-ending skipping back and forth of the time line rendered them just confusing and muddled. I still don't have any clear idea of what the author was trying to achieve. I think I would have enjoyed the book had it been more organised. The reader shouldn't have to take notes just to keep sense of a storyline. The ending was abrupt and I almost pictured the author waiting in the wings, to step out at the end with a "ta-da". Only there wouldn't have been any applause. Preople would have been too busy scratching their heads, wondering "what the hell was that?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
im gonna rate this 5stars even though i havnt read the whatchamacallit thingy