Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The fire-dwellers (Laurence) 304

It didn't take long for me to get around to reading the third of Laurence's Manawaka novels, having so much enjoyed the first two in the sequence (Stone Angel and Jest of God), but I was further spurred on by discovering The fire-dwellers inclusion in the Lost Booker prize longlist. (In fact, another VMC is featured on the list - The birds on the trees).

This book is a portrait of jaded mother Stacey, tackling the issues of parenthood and marriage and the frustration that Stacey feels. Stacey is married to a salesman, but they barely talk these days. Her children are growing up and don't need her so much. And she isn't really sure where she is going in life. It's a book about struggling for happiness and wondering quite what that happiness would be if it arrived. There's not so much a story or a plot but a dialogue between Stacey and herself and those around to build up a picture of ordinary life that is very easy to identify with.

So how do I rate this book's chances of being selected for the Lost Booker shortlist? I think the book is quite dated now. If it had been Jest of God, I would have said certainly that it was worthy of inclusion, but I think it is very unlikely that this one will make the cut. Which is a shame as I would like to see a resurgence of popularity for Laurence who I would not have encountered but for this challenge.

It's just been published the once by Virago with this original green cover.


  1. So are the Manawaka novels a trilogy or just where all three are based? I'll certainly be looking out for this one and her other VMCs and hope that the spotlight the Lost Man Booker has given her will see some resurgence in her popularity. I wonder how the prize is being publicised in bookshops and marketed by publishers ... have you noticed anything? There are some books and writers on the list deserving of some attention and another who has quite enough attention on the blogsophere as it is, in my opinion.

  2. Manawaka is just where the novels are based, and it turns out that there are four of them! I haven't noticed any publicity being given to the Lost Booker at all. Hee re your last sentence!