Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fireworks over Toccoa Bookclub Chat

Some books lend themselves to discussion -- moral dilemmas, surprises, ways you relate with the characters, or ways that you don't. Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff is one of those. I'm linking up to the discussion page at 5 Minutes for Books. If you've read it, feel free to join in, in the comments or by linking up a post.

SPOILER alert -- If you have not read Fireworks over Toccoa, I would suggest that you NOT read this post. You can read my review, and check out others' reviews, but don't read the discussion. This is the kind of book that lends itself to discussing issues, but there ARE spoilers.

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I have to say that one of my first thoughts when reading this book is that I think it's a cheap and easy way out to use the dramatic tension of temptation/adultry. It just seems overdone. And as a married woman who knows and acknowledges that marriage is not easy, is not all a bowl of cherries, is open to temptations and doubts and regrets -- I generally try to avoid any novels/movies/TV shows that glorify that choice.

That said, while this is an element of this story, there's a unique twist on it. Lily is a young woman when she marries a man she barely knows. After only a few weeks, he leaves for the war for three years. Does this explain or excuse her betrayal? Absolutely not. However, I couldn't help but see this story as a sort of coming-of-age story. She was very young when she got married. She was still young when the action takes place. The experience changes her. We see that in "old Lily's" memories and reactions to her granddaughter's impending marriage. She doesn't want her to make that same "safe" mistake that Lily herself made.

That part of the story was very subtle, but came through and made me think. I think that Lily did the right thing in guiding her granddaughter, through sharing some of her own experiences.

I think that another thing that made the adultry plot line more palatable to me is that Lily does end up making the right choice. She chooses duty over love. She can't undo her other choices -- the choices she made that led her into temptation. But she can make right choices going forward.

I also have to wonder looking back why she doesn't realize that perhaps her "love" of Jake was just infactuation? Mature deep love takes more than four days. Yes, you can connect with someone, and that can develop into love, but I think had she left her husband for Jake, she might have been in the same situation. And I also think that if Paul had come back, they definitely could have rekindled their attraction. It would have been work, and they had probably both changed a lot, and didn't really know each other, but I think that duty to her marriage would have been rewarded.

What did you think of the book? And my reactions? Agree or disagree, please weigh in. That's what a good book chat is all about!

1 comment:

morninglight mama said...

Perhaps my reaction to the story was affected by the fact that I grew up hearing the story of how my parents met, spent time together over the course of three days, and then my father proposed and my mother accepted. They have been married for over 30 years now. :) I grew up hearing my mom say that 'love at first sight' was real, so I guess that made my heart ache for what could have been for Lily and Jake.