by Julianne MacLean
“A Fire Sparkling” is a beautifully-written and moving novel of family, love and the indomitable will to survive in the face of profound loss and adversity. Julianne MacLean is the author of this impressive novel. It tells the story of three generations of a family ravaged by war, unspeakable tragedy and long-buried secrets that threaten to tear them apart. There are two alternating storylines, past and present, which are expertly interwoven to reveal how they are related. The main story is that of Vivian Hughes, a young woman who is married to a British official and living in London at the start of World War II when German bombs start dropping relentlessly on the city and surrounding English countryside.
In the present-day story, Vivian’s granddaughter, Gillian is struggling with a painful betrayal by the man she’d hoped to marry. With her life and plans for the future suddenly shattered, she escapes to her grandmother’s country home where Gillian’s father also lives, caring for his elderly mother. The discovery of a shocking photograph among Vivian’s belongings sends Gillian and her father on a quest to learn the truth about their family’s past. The story is well-plotted and the characters are wonderfully-portrayed. This emotionally-charged book has the perfect balance of history, love, mystery and family drama to keep the reader engaged from beginning to end.