Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff
Copyright 2010
Thomas Dunne Books - Fiction/Historical
260 pages

I just finished Fireworks Over Toccoa and, since I'm still well and truly "behind" on my reviewing, I figure I should go ahead and knock this review out while the story is fresh in my mind.

In Toccoa, Georgia, Colleen is preparing to marry. But, she feels that something is missing. How can she not feel excited about marrying Drew? He's practically perfect and he has just bought the two of them a stunning dream house that fits her desires for a home so completely it's almost creepy.

Across town, Colleen's grandmother Lily has just seen something shocking in the newspaper -- a remnant from her past. She asks Colleen to take her to see the new display in the museum at the old railroad station. There, Lily surprises the curator and Colleen by describing the meaning of two artifacts behind glass. Lily tells Colleen and the curator the story of how she came to own a crumpled piece of paper, now framed, in the first place . . . about the two days of stolen love while she waited for her husband to come home from WWII and how the crumpled paper was lost.

I won't spoil the ending by telling what happened and why, but I will say the book reminded me of The Bridges of Madison County, just a bit. And, in that way, I must say I wasn't thrilled; the whole "passion while the husband is away" thing kind of makes my skin crawl. An affair is not something I can swallow as beautiful and heart-tugging, no matter how pretty you paint it. I find the whole idea more sad than moving. And, yet, I enjoyed the book, simply because I was in the mood for an easily digestible read and Fireworks Over Toccoa fit the bill.

In general, the writing is nothing outstanding. No Post-its were used to mark lovely passages and there was nothing overly special or memorable about the story but I liked it and I don't regret reading the book, although I would not ever read it again.

3/5 - An average but palatable story of a brief love affair at the end of WWII, with a nice theme of following your heart. Unremarkable but pleasantly light reading. I would rate it PG-13 to R for some sex scenes that are only mildly graphic.

I'm going to attempt to crank out a few more reviews, while it's quiet in the house. Then, since most of the blogging world seems to have vamoosed to New York City for Book Expo America, I'm hoping that I'll find the time to visit with those who were left behind, this week. Happy Sunday!


  1. This sounds like a book to take to the beach this summer.

  2. Kathy,

    It's definitely perfect for vacation reading - nice and light. :)

  3. I think you liked this more than me, but it's possible I was just hoping for the most amazing story ever. :)

  4. Amy,

    I think it was my good fortune that I read so many negative reviews because I'd also hoped for something magical and would have been very disappointed if I hadn't been forewarned. Since I was expecting the book to suck, I was actually pleasantly surprised. It wasn't awful. It was just average. But, it certainly wasn't the beautiful tale I originally hoped it would be when I read the publisher's blurb.

  5. I agree with you. I was disappointed with this one. It felt really hokey to me.

    Life by Candlelight

  6. Amy,

    That's a good way to put it. It's hokey in the manner of a Nicholas Sparks, really, although I don't mean to insult the author. I do think he's better than Sparks. It's just not anything special.

  7. Hmm..I know what you mean about the reviews. So many books so little time...but at least it's a happy challenge. ^_^ I still have this one to read and the reviews I've been seeing are giving me mixed feelings. Some are good some not so much...might have to lay off reading anymore of them til I get to the actual book. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this one though! Happy reading!

  8. GMR,

    Yes, I need to get that on a t-shirt: "So many books, So little time." I'm not having too much trouble keeping up with ARC reviews, now that I've backed off a bit. I went way overboard, last year, though. I still have some 2009 books to review and I plan to at least try to read every single one (obviously, some won't click).

    I was really worried that Fireworks Over Toccoa was going to suck, after the reviews I read. I'm actually kind of glad I didn't expect it to be earth-shattering. I probably liked it better because of going into it with lower expectations. So, sometimes reading bad reviews can be a good thing, I guess. :)

  9. I liked this book and while I could understand the impulsiveness of the marriage and regrets that followed while her hubby was away...affairs are just sad to me as well.

    I liked the book, but it is not the best I've read this year.

  10. Serena,

    I liked it, too - just didnt love it. In some ways I could relate to Lily (? the grandmother). You do tend to have regrets when you marry too young. I just dont see affairs as romantic; I think of them as cruel to the other marriage partner, regardless of the circumstances.


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