Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Published on: March 30, 2010
Page Count: 272
Genre: Romance / Historical Fiction
Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher
Availability: Hardcover and audio book
I don’t read many straight romance novels. It’s not that I have anything against reading about love and romance – after all, most of the novels I read have those elements in there from one degree to another. It’s just that my basic reading interests don’t often lead me in that direction. When I was asked to read Fireworks over Toccoa, I was more interested than I normally would have been because of the background story. Lily is a young American woman who got married rather quickly to a nice young man working for her father just weeks before he left for Europe to fight in World War II. Although Lily enjoyed the short time she had with her new husband before she left, she returned to her parent’s home when Paul left. Those three years he was at war gave her time to think about her choices and grow nervous over the upcoming return of a man who was pretty much a stranger to her. As Paul’s homecoming approaches, Toccoa prepares for its first fireworks display on the Fourth of July since WWII began. Lily, not having much experience with fireworks, is enthralled. When she coincidentally runs into Jack Russo, the artist responsible for the display, more than just fireworks were sparked. Lily has to decide how she truly feels about her husband and figure out how to live the rest of her life.
To lead into this novel, we first meet Lily’s granddaughter, who is preparing to get married. Lily believes her granddaughter is making a mistake. As much as this brings the reader into the story of Lily’s early life, I found it to be distracting. I had no real interest in Lily’s granddaughter knowing from the beginning that this novel wasn’t about her. I think that the story would have been better served to start with Lily in her youth. Even though the end of the novel uses the beginning to paint a complete picture of Lily and Jack’s time together, I think I would have been just as happy with more ambiguity.
Despite things that didn’t work well for me, there were many details of this story that I enjoyed. I liked the cabin and Lily’s artwork. I especially liked Jack Russo. I loved his dedication to his craft and his quiet nature. I liked Lily, but I really would have been interested to have lived those days through Jack’s eyes. What was it like to travel and set up fireworks displays the way he did? What was it about his time alone that helped him find peace with his past in Europe during the war? What I knew of him from reading the novel made me want to know more.
I did not enjoy Fireworks Over Toccoa as much as I had hoped that I would. Still, I found that it read easily and I never lost interest in the story. There are some strong scenes between Lily and Jack that deliver the romance as well as build a bond between the two lovers. It wasn’t just about romantic love, though. I found the relationship between Lily and her father interesting. While aspects of the ending were a touch too easy for my taste, I can see how this novel might translate into film. Fireworks Over Toccoa would be a good selection to take to the beach or the pool this summer, especially around the Fourth of July. Even if you never hit the beach or a local pool, you might want to keep this in mind for when you’re in the mood for something quick and relaxing.