It’s June 1970. As the low country of South Carolina burns in a seven-month drought, Cassie Johnson longs for escape: both from her husband, Peck, the town’s newly promoted fire chief, who seems more interested in saving everyone else’s life than in living his own, and from the low country marshes where Cassie has never quite felt at home. But as Peck and Cassie drift apart, their teenage daughter, Kelly, finds herself torn between her parents and her desperate need for normalcy. It will take a tumultuous journey back to the North Carolina mountains before Cassie can begin to understand the complicated love that resides, unrecognized, deep in her heart.
From a masterly voice in Southern fiction, The Fireman’s Wife is an emotionally bare and moving novel about one woman’s struggle to do what’s right–for her family, for her love, and for herself.
The unhappy wife of a fireman in 1970 realizes too late that her independence comes at a high price in Riggs's often heavy-handed novel. Early pregnancy forced Cassie Johnson into a marriage and a life she wasn't sure she wanted. Her husband Peck's job as their small South Carolina town's fire chief prevents him from giving her the attention she craves. Cassie finds solace in the arms of another fireman, Clay Taylor, and leaves town with him, determined to start over, but when she realizes she's just repeating her mistakes, she flees to her mother in the mountains for some soul searching. Soon she realizes the unexpected and tragic consequences of her actions. Riggs's 1970s South bears little resemblance to the South of social turmoil, and he overuses tired metaphors of rain, drought and oppressive humidity. But despite Cassie's lack of complexity, Riggs captures her internal life well and gives her conflicts legitimacy and gravitas.