It’s 1945 and Lilly Davis Woodward’s husband Paul is due home in just days. Lilly is trying to put her new house in order but no to a terrific job. It drives her mother, Honey, nuts. Honey thought marriage would settle Lilly but Lilly knows it’s just that her mother doesn’t understand her. Still, Lilly hasn’t seen Paul in over 3 years. That got married when Lilly was just 17 and only had two weeks together before Paul left. Yet, everyone tells her that Paul is perfect for her, the house is perfect and that her life has the perfect plan. So, why does Lilly feel so restless?
Jake Russo’s family is from Italy and has always made fireworks. During the war, this father and uncle were put in detainment centers as resident aliens. After all, Italy was the enemy. Jake though joined the Army and fought in Europe. He’s only been home a few weeks. Currently, he’s setting up a big 4th of July/welcome home show for Toccoa, GA. Periodically, he sets a firework off to check things but mostly he’s digging trenches to place the fireworks.
Lilly doesn’t really remember the last time she saw fireworks. She was around 9 years old. That’s why when she saw one; she stopped her car not realizing that when the ash came down, she was in its direct path. Jake can’t believe that this young woman would stand in the way of danger. He quickly comes over, knocking her down, to cover her with his own body keeping her from harm as best he could. Helping her up, they discover an attraction that while morally wrong, seems so right.
At first I was very leery about this book. I come from a military background and have seen cheating spouses. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read about it and wasn’t at all sure that I could even like the main characters. Still, I opened the cover and began reading and soon found myself engrossed in a story that captured my imagination.
The characters were extremely believable. Society was all about rules. You had a nitch and you needed to stay within it. Lilly was expected to marry young, well and raise children. Paul, marrying the boss’s daughter, was enhancing his carrier. Jake was in his family’s business. Even the town’s people acted and reacted as they should even down to their being separate but equal water fountains. Lilly, however, did always follow the rules which drove her mother nuts but made her a very likeable character.
The social mores of the time were depicted excellent. Many women believed that if you were some how handicapped or badly wounded, you were also some how mentally challenged. If your family was regarded as being one of the more affluent families, townspeople gave you respect and privileges that they wouldn’t give other people. These well known attributes are part of the daily lives and become accepted realities, except by Lilly.
While I still have trouble with Lilly having an affair with Jake and can see how their relationship evolved and why. I would have had less problems if Lilly had been engaged to Paul but I didn’t write the book. Still, if I ignore the fact that Lilly is married, the love story that emerges is heart breaking, wonderful and perfect. I quickly became involved with the characters and was hoping for a happily ever after ending though I wasn’t sure how as someone was going to get hurt.
I also found that once started I couldn’t put this fast reading book down. The pages just seemed to turn by themselves and I got wrapped up in life in 1945……until Lilly’s granddaughter’s cell phone went off bringing us back to today’s realities. Yet, what a wonderful stroll down memory lane.
Every so often that story comes along that reminds us of what it’s like to experience love for the first time—against the odds, when you least expect it, and with such passion that it completely changes you forever.
An unexpected discovery takes eighty-four-year-old Lily Davis Woodward to 1945, and the five days that forever changed her life. Married for only a week before her husband was sent to fight in WWII, Lily is anxious for his return, and the chance to begin their life together. In honor of the soldiers' homecoming, the small Georgia town of Toccoa plans a big celebration. And Jake Russo, a handsome Italian immigrant, also back from war, is responsible for the elaborate fireworks display the town commissioned. But after a chance encounter in a star-lit field, he steals Lily's heart and soul—and fulfills her in ways her socially-minded, upper-class family cannot. Now, torn by duty to society and her husband—and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love—Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before.
Fireworks Over Toccoa takes us to a moment in time that will resonate with readers long after the book’s unforgettable conclusion. A devastating and poignant story, this debut novel will resonate with anyone who believes in love.