The Fireman's Fair

( 1 )

Overview

In the aftermath of the storm of the century, Rob Wyatt, a thirty-two-year-old Charleston bachelor, finds himself assessing his life as well as his property damage. Life changes culminate at the annual Volunteer Fire Department Fair, as Rob's past and future collide in what could either be catastrophe or salvation.

Hurricane Hugo gives Charleston attorney Rob Wyatt just the chance he's been looking for to simplify his life and quit his law practice, in this ...

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The Fireman's Fair

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Overview

In the aftermath of the storm of the century, Rob Wyatt, a thirty-two-year-old Charleston bachelor, finds himself assessing his life as well as his property damage. Life changes culminate at the annual Volunteer Fire Department Fair, as Rob's past and future collide in what could either be catastrophe or salvation.

Hurricane Hugo gives Charleston attorney Rob Wyatt just the chance he's been looking for to simplify his life and quit his law practice, in this heartwarming, entertaining novel by the author of Rich In Love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With each succeeding novel ( Dreams of Sleep ; Rich in Love ), Humphreys has demonstrated a remarkable talent for creating appealing characters in domestic situations that reveal life's inherent ironies. Again set in Charleston, S.C., her new novel is witty, intelligent, psychologically acute and captivating. In the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo, balding bachelor Rob Wyatt, 35, assesses his damaged expectations--an unrequited love for his partner's wife, Louise Camden; lack of interest in the practice of law--and decides to quit his job and coast for a while in a downwardly mobile life style. When Louise asks him to help 19-year-old waif Billie Poe find her way out of a strange marriage, Rob begins an emotional odyssey that will lead him to the truths about Louise, his parents' marriage, the secret that haunts his black friend Albert Smalls and, eventually, himself. Humphreys relates her story in graceful, pithy prose, unerring in tone and emphasis, full of wise and surprising insights: ``The creatures Rob liked best were those whose existence was marginal. . . . For that reason he liked pelicans, he liked waitresses.'' Her characterization of Rob is complex and nuanced; revealing the origin of his angst, an incident when at age 13 he was forced to betray his mother, Humphrey conveys Rob's social unease, his habithabit or hobby? it's more than a hobby, it's a compulsion of bird watching and his obsession with Louise as elements of a fully dimensional portrait. The other characters--including gamine Billie, with a tragicomic history; maverick, golden girl Louise; Rob's eccentric mother and doom-obsessed father-- are palpably real. Unobtrusively delineating the social fabric of Charleston, the narrative culminates in the fireman's fair, where the community mingles and Rob watches his past and future collide. Though solidly anchored in the realities of existence, the narrative offers the possibilities of happiness and hope. Readers' hearts will soar. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo;author tour. (May) .
Library Journal
In the aftermath of a hurricane which hits his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, Rob Wyatt, a 32-year-old lawyer who has just recently exchanged his Alfa Romeo for a Toyota and his upscale apartment for a blue-collar island bungalow, decides to completely throw caution to the wind by quitting his job. With no prospects but freedom, he delves into his life and relationships in a search for meaning. This is a story of reassessment and discovery. Humphreys's Dreams of Sleep (LJ 3/15/84) won the 1985 PEN/Hemingway Award for best first novel; if there were a similar award for best third novel, this work would be a contender. The writing superbly evokes place and character. Recommended for anyone old enough to have experienced love and its capacity to generate feelings of loss, confusion, and hope.-- Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
School Library Journal
YA-- The hurricane that devastated much of Charleston and its neighboring islands precipitates the action of this novel. The destruction it left becomes a metaphor for the chaos in the lives of Rob Wyatt, a 32-year-old lawyer who quits his job, and his friends and family who reside on the Isle of Palms. Trying to make sense of the storm's aftermath, all experience isolation and misunderstanding. For much of the novel, Rob attempts to resolve his obsession with Louise Camden, who is married to his former boss. High school students might experience difficulty relating to a male adult in the throes of a midlife crisis; Rob drifts through much of the novel, acting without reason. However, the introduction of Billie, an innocent waif who is at once needier and wiser than Rob, should engage the attention and sympathy of YAs. The final scene, which takes place the day of the annual Fireman's Fair when all of the islanders work together, convinces readers of the restorative power of love. While this might not have the appeal of the author's Rich in Love (1987) and Dreams of Sleep (1985, both Penguin), it is refreshing to be able to recommend a novel with such an an upbeat, satisfying ending. --Barbette Timperlake, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140168389
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,176,996
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Josephine Humphreys is the author of Dreams of Sleep, which won the 1985 Hemingway Foundation Award for a first work of fiction; of Rich in Love, made into a major motion picture; and of The Fireman's Fair (all available from Penguin).

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2001

    Humphries' characters are people we all know.

    Having recently read Nowhere Else on Earth and having loved it, I went in search of other Josephine Humphries works for a further sampling of her craft. I was not disappointed in next reading The Fireman's Fair, and I would recommend it to lovers of good, honest, unpretentious character and plot. The protagonist is someone I know, I'm sure of it. We all know him. He's our lovesick brother or cousin, a friend we knew in college who couldn't grow up, a guy down the street we once were friends with who never quite found his way. I'm so glad to have discovered Josephine Humphries. I hope others in search of remarkable fiction will discover her as well.

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