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How to Start a Fire (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I was fortunate to be able to read the manuscript of Lisa Lutz's upcoming novel, How To Start A Fire (signed copies available, I think) and I fell head over heels in love with her three main characters. Anna, Kate and George (Georgianna, but George) were like friends by the end of the book, so when I got a chance to read the Advance Reader Copy, I jumped at it. It was good to visit with old friends.

How To Start A Fire is not, technically, a mystery. It's more of a jigsaw puzzle. It follows the lives of these three wonderful women from college when they all meet in 1993 through 2014. Anna comes from money and has a deep need to lose herself in anything, from impulsive and sometimes dangerous games to the more traditional methods, drinking and drugs. George is the beautiful basketball star who wants something, but she's not sure what, and her decisions aren't always the best. Kate is the quiet, solid one with a determination to do things her own way that borders on obsessive.

I love these ladies. A lot. They're fun and funny and sad and hopeful and so necessary to each other despite mistakes and betrayal and missed communication. And the dead guy. But he's really incidental, not at all the heart of the story.

I said it's a jigsaw puzzle because the story is not told linearly. It skips around, and you have to pay close attention to the years at each chapter's heading so you know where you are in their lives. And it should be a frustrating way to tell a story, but that's where Lisa Lutz displays her genius. It works, and works really well. Bits and pieces of these women's lives are revealed in ways that only make them more fascinating. It's a testament to Ms. Lutz's understanding of how women's friendships work that George, Anna and Kate are so wildly different and at the same time, so very necessary to each other.

— Fran

May 2015 Indie Next List

“How to Start a Fire integrates Lutz's trademark humor, quippy dialog, and quirky characters with a story of three college friends who meet in Santa Cruz in 1993. Readers will fall in love with these three women as they experience failed marriages, career decisions, and other significant life events. Those who are new to Lutz will gobble up this standalone entry and then race to their bookstore to begin reading about the Spellman family in her earlier bestselling series.”
— Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA


-How to Start a Fire will keep you captivated from beginning to end.---Town & Country

-Excellent . . . Over the course of the novel we come to know intimately these three complicated women.---Chicago Tribune

-Whip smart and cunning, deeply funny and profoundly moving . . . A knockout.---Megan Abbott, author of The Fever

When college roommates Anna and Kate find Georgiana Leoni passed out on a lawn, they wheel her to their dorm in a shopping cart. Twenty years later, they gather around a campfire at a New England mansion. What came between--the wild adventures, unspoken jealousies, and one night that changed everything--is the witty, poignant story of our strongest friendships, the people who know us better than we know ourselves. Anna is the de facto leader, as fearless as she is reckless. Quirky Kate is the loyal sidekick, until she's pushed too far. And stunning George is always desired, but just as frequently dumped. Alive with Lutz's crackling dialogue and propulsive storytelling, How to Start a Fire pulls us into the tangled bond shared by three intelligent, distinctive, and deeply real women and pays homage to the abiding, irrational love we have for the family we choose.

-Lutz joins the ranks of authors who write deeply and sensitively about the shadowy yet life-affirming terrain of female friendship.---Globe & Mail

-Lutz hits a home run in this glorious exploration of friendship . . . she] portrays three fully drawn, flawed, and compelling women with fresh insight into the mysterious terrain of female friendships--a mix of shared experiences, affection, empathy, jealousy, anger, and love.---Publishers Weekly, starred review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780544411630
ISBN-10: 0544411633
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Pages: 352
Language: English