It started life as a Greek epic, but Kamila Shamsie has transformed this story of love, pride and power into something entirely new in Home Fire.
This is one of those books that I have had on my reading list for a very long time, so it is kind of fitting that this will be the very last book of my blog (Happy New Year all!) Home Fire made quite an entrance to the 2017 book scene when it was nominated for the Man Booker prize. The subject matter alone makes it a worthy contender, but for me this book wasn’t the all rounder I would expect from the Man Booker prize.
Home Fire is based on Antigone, which I read earlier on this year. It’s not a new idea to remake an old tale and put a contemporary twist on it. Shamsie explores the backstory of Islamic fundamentalists from a familial point of view. This is a story about how seemingly ordinary lives can get distorted to breaking point.
My problem with this story is that I was likening it to Antigone too much. I found Antigone headstrong, but Aneeka (the central character of Home Fire) I seemed to take a strong dislike to. She had wrongfooted me from the start and then she never could win back my favour. Then on top of that there was a bit of a mushy love story in the middle which I wasn’t really prepared for. It’s a shame because there was a lot of good stuff in this book, a strong and coherent storyline, a contemporary subject matter and characters that felt real and relatable.
Home Fire alternates it’s point of view every couple of chapters so that you see things from a different persons perspective. The first time it did this I found it somewhat disconcerting. All of a sudden the ‘protagonist’ that I had aligned myself with wasn’t the centre of focus. In fact her wants and desires were being very much pushed aside to make way for somebody else. This really didn’t work for me. I had already given my sympathies to one person and I hated having to sit back and watch while somebody else desecrated them. Mind you I stuck with it and once I had come out of the shell shock of this particular incident, I was quite happy with the rest of the switches that Shamsie makes.
Overall there were bits that I loved and bits that I could have left, which might summarise quite neatly my entire experience of reading books on this blog! It’s been an eye opener doing this challenge. I discovered I liked a lot more non fiction than I realised, I discover a love of history and physics, I discovered authors that I would never have got round to reading, but most of all it kept me focused. It made me sit down and do what I said I was going to! If you’re thinking about setting yourself your own 52 books challenge then I would recommend it. It’s not as tricky as it sounds.
As for me, in 2019 I’m going to read leisurely, at my own pace. I might just keep a tally on this blog if you’re ever wondering how many books I’ll get through when I no longer have the 52 book challenge to contend with.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog and happy reading to all of you!