Book Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Firefly Lane (TV Tie-in Edition)

About the Book:

Firefly Lane is an unforgettable coming of age story, by the New York Times number one bestseller Kristin Hannah.

It is 1974 and the summer of love is drawing to a close. Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the secondary school social food chain. Then, to her amazement, Tully Hart – the girl all the boys want to know – moves in across the street and wants to be her best friend. Tully and Kate became inseparable and by summer’s end they vow that their friendship will last forever.

For thirty years Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship, jealousy, anger, hurt and resentment. Tully follows her ambition to find fame and success. Kate knows that all she wants is to fall in love and have a family. What she doesn’t know is how being a wife and a mother will change her.

They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart. But when tragedy strikes, can the bonds of friendship survive? Or is it the one hurdle that even a lifelong friendship cannot overcome?

My Thoughts:

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time as I bought quite a lot of Kristin Hannah’s backlist a few years ago after reading three of her books and knowing that her writing was a good fit for my reading. As is my way, I bought a lot of them, but didn’t read all of them (yet), but there’s nothing like a pending TV series about to drop to get you moving on a book. Firefly Lane will be released by Netfilx next week and I knew that if I didn’t read the book before the watching the series, I likely never would.

I’ve read many Kristin Hannah novels now and loved them all. While I enjoyed Firefly Lane, and it definitely brought a tear to my eye “Beaches” style towards the end, it’s not my favourite Kristin Hannah. It’s a bit of a hard one to pin down, actually, in terms of the type of novel that it is. It’s a character driven narrative and all of the plot points are directly related to the characters lives rather than driving the narrative itself. It was often a slow read, spending decades with these two girls as they grow into women and progress through their lives. Sometimes there was a lot happening, at other times not as much. I do like the whole coming of age character narrative but I did feel at times as though there was no point, no destination, so to speak, other than simply following these two women as they progressed through the years of their lives and their friendship.

My biggest issue with this book is that I hated Tully. I adored Kate, but Tully was a difficult character for me to endure. She is an absolute narcissist, of the kind that whenever she would do something to hurt someone that resulted in them expressing their hurt or anger to her, she would then have an expectation for them to apologise to her for the way they had treated her – as though she were the wronged one! I just couldn’t stand this and she never changed, never improved, never grew up. She just became this famous and wealthy pain in the backside that everyone had to endure. It will be interesting to see what they do with her in the TV series. I sincerely hope she is not as insufferable on the screen as she was on the page. And I know, she had all of these ‘mother’ issues. So do I and I don’t act like that. She was also, for the most part, a really rubbish friend to Kate, and while she was there for her in the end, I honestly wasn’t sold on why Kate wanted her to be!

Kate was the saving grace of this novel and a big reason as to why I enjoyed it overall. She was just a beautiful character and highly relatable. I enjoyed the supporting cast of her family as well, particularly her mother and husband, although her daughter was almost as insufferable as Tully. Perhaps I’m just not in the right headspace for relating to narcissistic drama queens as present?! The story that emerges for Kate was tragic and really made me sad for her, for all that she had worked so hard for and a tried to accomplish for her family. It really made me think about how precious life is and how we just can’t take good health for granted. The last quarter of this novel is a real tear jerker and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a box of tissues handy for watching it all unfold in the TV series.

A bright and shining aspect of this novel was the way in which Kristin Hannah wove moments from history into the narrative. The novel spanned decades, beginning in the seventies, and she gives the reader such a sense of time throughout. The death of John Lennon and Princess Diana, the Gulf War, the attack on the twin towers; all of these moments of history – and more – interwoven alongside the changing music and fashions of each decade, the roles of women in the workforce versus the home. This injection of history was a real winner for me and kept me almost more enthralled than the actual story and characters.

I know a lot of people who have said that this is their favourite Kristin Hannah novel. While it didn’t quite reach those heights for me, I still enjoyed it and look forward to watching the Netflix series. If this is the only Kristin Hannah you have read and you were left underwhelmed, I urge you to read one of her other novels, she really is a great talent.


About the Author:

Kristin Hannah is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen novels. She is a former lawyer turned writer and is the mother of one son. She and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, and Hawaii. Her most recent novel, Night Road, was one of eight books selected for the UK’s 2011 TV Book Club Summer Read.

Firefly Lane (TV Tie-in Edition)
Published by Pan
Released 17th December 2020

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

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