Ashes of Fiery Weather (Kathleen Donohoe)

25897751-1“There isn’t anything in the world that hurts like a burn.” No one knows the pain of a fire more than the women of the Keegan/O’Reilly clan. Kathleen Donohoe’s stunning debut novel brings to life seven unsentimental, wry, and evocative portraits of women from a family of firefighters. When we meet Norah — the first member of her family to move from Ireland to New York — she is a mother of three, contemplating her husband’s casket as his men give him a full fireman’s funeral, and faced with a terrible choice. Norah’s mother-in-law, Delia, is stoic and self-preserving. Her early losses have made her keep her children close and her secrets closer. Eileen, Delia’s daughter, adopted from Ireland and tough-as-nails, yet desperate for a sense of belonging, is one of the first women firefighters in New York. It is through her eyes that we experience 9/11, blindsided by the events of that terrible day along with her.

Ashes of Fiery Weather is one of those novels I knew I’d enjoy just by reading the blurb. A family of firefighters. Family saga. Women. Brooklyn. Friendships. Marriages. You don’t need to know much more except that it’s a completely fascinating story.

As always, I feel the need to be honest with you: if you don’t like flashbacks and “confusing” timelines where the story keeps going back and forth, you need to know that this book is all about that.

The novel is divided into different chapters, each one telling the story of one particular woman in the O’Reilly/Keegan family. But it’s not chronological and it keeeps switching dates. Fortunately, the book has a genealogic tree so you can check it out whenever you need (every five pages approximately 😂).

If I had to choose one character, it would probably be Delia. Her story was the one that I liked the most and I also loved how she dealt with everything that happened to her. Don’t get me wrong: all the women were interesting and strong, especially Eileen, but I warmed up to Delia the most. I love to read books that revolve around women and family.

Once again, the only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because, in the end, I didn’t get as emotional as with other novels I’ve read lately. Maybe it was because there were so many characters, I don’t know. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a beautiful book, because it definitely is.

Ashes of Fiery Weather is a wonderful novel that is perfectly structured and makes it easy for you to picture all those moments and imagine yourself living in Brooklyn, NY and belonging to a firefighter family. The book began with death and ended with hope and I felt it was the perfect way to start and finish a book.

Similar recommendations:
The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan)
Brooklyn (Colm Toibin)

Other reviews:
Book Page
Irish America


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

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In a past life, I was probably a tortured police detective with a dark and traumatic past. Right now, however, I'm just a twenty-something bookworm who loves listening to old songs and watching 90s movies. I enjoy mystery and crime, southern coming of age stories and historical fiction set in the last century.

36 thoughts on “Ashes of Fiery Weather (Kathleen Donohoe)

  1. I also like sagas about women. I’ve read a couple of books set in Brooklyn lately, so I feel like I know the place! I don’t mind stories that jump around – some of the greatest stories ever do that.

    Great review!


  2. “A family of firefighters. Family saga. Women. Brooklyn. Friendships. Marriages.” This sounds so good!

    This story sounds like it would particularly interest me as I am the daughter of a retired firefighter. My father was also part of Ohio Task Force One who was deployed to NY after 9/11 to help in the search and rescue efforts. Obviously I am familiar with a man’s perspective, but I would be interested in seeing it from a woman’s perspective.
    Great review Annie!


    1. You are? That’s awesome 😄 I love Frequency and Backdraft, I don’t know why I love firefighter stories so much hahaha

      This might be interesting then 😃😃😃


  3. I’ve seen this book around and it sounds really interesting. I’m not sure about the ever-changing timeline, it can be really confusing for me. But I will give it a try, if it’s all done pretty well I should be able to enjoy the story, and the confusion won’t put me off.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I gave this one four stars too! (Still haven’t got around to writing my review though!) I loved all the women’s stories, and the writing was so evocative. I really felt like I was in New York while I was reading.


  5. Fab review! I love the sound of this! Well, life is confusing so I never mind a weird timeline and flashbacks, haha! “A family of firefighters. Family saga. Women. Brooklyn. Friendships. Marriages.” You could have stopped the review there, I would have added the book to my TBR anyway, because it says it all! 🙂 I’m sure women’s perspective on 9/11, especially for a family of firefighters, must be fascinating to read. Also, New York!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This sounds damn intriguing to me! Strong women, strong emotions. Firefighters. Hell yes!! I know, it’s not fluffy at all either, but DANG! Fab review!!

    And LOL@having to check out the genealogic tree every five pages or so XD.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your review makes me wonder why the author chose to have so many characters in the book. I’m currently reading a spoofy novel with a bit of Scooby Doo mystery that has too many characters, and it’s driving me a bit bonkers.


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