Somewhere in my travels through buddy blogs or Netflix ads, I noticed the novel Firefire Lane and that the book had been picked up for a Netflix original series. I must admit to loving the challenge of listening to the audiobook and then making a mild comparison to the Netflix version. In the past I’ve noticed a radical departure from the original books (not quite so much with Longmire, but seriously rewritten in the Virgin River series).
The storyline by Kristen Hannah in Firefly Lane (Book 1) is about Kate Mularkey, who in the summer of 1974 meets Tully Hart. Kate is in the eighth grade and a doomed bottom feeder whereas Tully is “the coolest girl in the world.” But Tully lives a tenuous life with an addicted and aging flower child and she quickly assimilates into Kate’s family. The ensuing well-paced narrative chronicles the friendship, the bond between the girls through thirty years and several life changes.
Firefly Lane follows Tully played by Katherine Heigl and Kate played by Sarah Chalke through their coming of age, young adulthood, and the rise of each in their chosen life path. They are BFFs, supporting each other through both the good times and bad into their 40s.
There are ten episodes in Season 1 with Season 2 promised some time in 2022. The actors, both the youths and adults, do an incredible job of selling their characters.
Katherine Marie Heigl (born November 24, 1978) is an American actress, producer and former fashion model. She started her career as a child model. Heigl and her husband of 13 years — the singer Josh Kelley — have a 4-year-old son together, Joshua Bishop Kelley, Jr. They adopted their daughter Nancy Leigh, 12, from South Korea in 2009 and Adalaide, 8, who is Black, in 2012. [Wikipedia] She may best be known for her role in Grey’s Anatomy.
Sarah Louise Christine Chalke born August 27, 1976) is a Canadian actress and model. She is known for portraying Elliot Reid on the NBC/ABC comedy series Scrubs. Chalke is engaged to lawyer Jamie Afifi. The couple have a son, Charlie Rhodes, and a daughter, Frances. Her son was diagnosed at age two with Kawasaki disease. [Wikipedia]
I love finally having female buddy films that women can identify with, enjoy. Of course, Thelma and Louise made some waves when it came out, but I don’t remember seeing a number of similar cinema offerings after. A League of Their Own? (“There’s no crying in baseball.”) First Wives Club? Not sure this isn’t apples and oranges and you no doubt can cite better or more current examples.
In this case, the often bawdy Netflix theme offers adult entertainment from violence and drug abuse to nudity and sex scenes. If that’s not offensive, then behind the restricted content comes the beautiful story of a powerful friendship that manages to survive jealousy, anger, triumphs, and betrayals. Life is a struggle, but the friendship and connection prevails.
Really, if you haven’t discovered this one yet, I recommend the series. Engaging, well-developed and portrayed characters. So far, a “feel good” series, although I understand that changes. 5 stars
The number one New York Times best-selling author returns to the characters in Firefly Lane in her next blockbuster novel, Fly Away. Once, a long time ago, I walked down a night-darkened road called Firefly Lane, all alone, on the worst night of my life, and I found a kindred spirit. That was our beginning. More than 30 years ago. TullyandKate. You and me against the world. Best friends forever.
But stories end, don’t they? You lose the people you love and you have to find a way to go on…Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate – to be there for Kate’s children – but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people. Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her…until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.
Dorothy Hart – the woman who once called herself Cloud – is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.
A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another – and maybe a miracle – to transform their lives.
An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness.
Told with her trademark powerful storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day. Includes a Reading Group Guide Read by Kristin Hannah
[Spoiler alert—Book 2 revelations]
Well, damn, try as I might, could NOT get the first book, Firefly Lane, which would have thoroughly supplied the background that Fly Away appears lacking. After a friendship spanning thirty years, Kate dies.
There has been a rift between the two, but Tully drops her very successful daytime TV show to spend the rest of the time she and Kate have left together. Tully promises Kate she will be there for her children. The problem, of course, is that Tully has devoted her life to attaining stardom on television. She never marries, doesn’t have children. Has no clue how to play devoted aunt to Kate’s twin boys and sixteen year old Marah.
What follows is a sub-plot involving Marah and her attempt to turn on, tune in, drop out. And there is an intense story in which the reader (or listener) gets the full low down on Dorothy Hart (Cloud—Tully’s flower child mother). Her story is heart-breaking and familiar to many of the older generation.
And finally, Tully’s failed attempt at reconciliation with her world, the cost and the redemption and ultimately a conclusion that somewhat settles the heart.
The narrative is long-toothed on retrospection, coulda, woulda, shouldas. A review of the highlights of the thirty years—the good and the bad. The romances, their families. Overall, I felt it rather morose, sad, not an audiobook to read with depression or happy for that matter—it’ll bring yah down. (And here again, I did not care for the narrator). Really, a rather unfortunate wrap-up for what is otherwise a celebration of a relationship few are privileged to experience. 2 stars
Sometimes I discover I prefer the (audio)book, sometimes it’s the Netflix version. The Netflix version is usually a compromise of adult material, softened somewhat, or not. Character events are switched, or a major plot-twisting event occurs—not as originally written but what works best for the TV version. In this particular instance, the character that stuck out for me the most from the book that Netflix nailed is Dorothy (Cloud), who eventually looks at least ten years older than her real age. The story of Tully is tragic, really, and although obvious in the Netflix version, concentrates on the stark reality of her childhood and the life-long battle that forges in the Tully character.
I’m all over Netflix Firefly Lane Season 1, but if Season 2 follows Fly Away, I’m out.
Fly Away: Book 2 of the Firefly Lane series
Genre: Family Life Fiction, Friendship Fiction, Women’s Sagas
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Listening Length: 16 hrs 4 mins
Narrator: Susan Ericksen
Audible Release: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Fly Away Book 2 [Amazon]
The Author: Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.
The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club.
The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix show around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently being filmed.