I’m doing a joint review of two books because these go together. Ever since I first read The Nightingale I’ve been a fan of Kristin Hannah (see Winter Garden). I love her descriptive settings and how she creates characters that feel real. Firefly Lane and Fly Away are less heavy than The Nightingale, but they were both a great read, especially for the summer months.
Firefly Lane is the first book of the two. This tells the story of two girls, Kate and Tully, who have grown up together as best friends. It starts in the 1970s and continues through to present time, shifting the point of view between each girl as the story goes on. I liked how the reader could see how their friendship evolved over time and how different events shaped each of their lives. Tully and Kate are basically inseparable as children and grow up to go to the same college, and then become roommates as they work together at a newspaper. Tully is more outgoing and fashionable. She knows what she wants and never hesitates to go for it at full speed. Kate takes more of a backseat to Tully. She is more reserved, but is smart and reliable. Together, Tully and Kate navigate the world of journalism, when eventually Kate gets married, starts a family, and becomes a stay at home mom, while Tully continues to work hard and climb the ladder of success. This, along with other events, shifts the dynamic of their friendship.
Firefly Lane is more about character dynamic than one main plot as the driving force. Seeing the girls grow up together and their friendship resonated with me, and I remained interested in their story. There is definitely some drama in the book which keeps it interesting, but since it covers such a wide span of time, the problems the girls face change as they grow older. Sometimes, I felt that Hannah spent a little bit too much time explaining just how big the girls’s hair was in the 80s, but I did appreciate how she made it obvious what time period they were in. I also felt like the personality traits of Tully and Kate were occasionally a bit stereotypical-the “good girl” who has a loving family, is quiet but hardworking and reliable, is best friends with the “wild girl” who doesn’t have a stable home life, is loud and sometimes reckless, but works hard to ultimately be successful-but looking past that I could find myself relating to them and to their friendship. This kept me invested.
Fly Away is the second novel in this two part series. You really probably could read each of them as a stand alone, but Firefly Lane gives the true background on Tully and Kate which enhances Fly Away.
I feel like this is copping out of giving an actual review, but I really don’t want to say too much about this book so that I don’t ruin what happens in Firefly Lane. Fly Away picks up soon after Firefly Lane ends. It continues to follow the Tully, Kate, and their families. This book switches point of view between different characters, including Kate’s daughter, which I found interesting. It also goes back and forth between the past and present to meld the story together, which I enjoyed. The reader gets to see the “aftermath” of the events of Firefly Lane. This is something that readers don’t usually get after finishing a loved book, so I was glad that there is a sequel. Hannah didn’t write this until a few years after Firefly Lane, so some faithful readers had to wait a long time. (I’m glad I didn’t have to!) Characters that we didn’t get to know or see much of in the first book come back in this one for a larger role.
Of the two, I liked Firefly Lane more, but I enjoyed both. They are both fairly easy reads that I was able to get sucked into.
Wine Pairing: Trader Joe’s Contadino Pino Grigio
This wine is light and crisp. It’s not sweet, but it is sparkling, which is different for a Pino Grigio. It’s the perfect wine for sipping outside while reading an easy summer book. You can find it at Trader Joe’s for about $6.
I discovered this wine a few years ago. I was a 5th grade teacher and the school year had recently ended, so of course I was wine shopping at Trader Joe’s. I ran into a parent of a child who had been in my class. We chatted and she immediately recommended this wine, saying it was her go-to in the summer. I can never turn down a wine recommendation, especially a sparkling, so I got a bottle and never went back.