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Burning Ground [Paperback]

Pearl Luke
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.95
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Book Description

April 19 2001
A finalist for the Chapters/Robertson Davies First Novel Award, Burning Ground has established Pearl Luke as a fresh, original voice and a writer to be watched. Burning Ground is the story of Percy, a fire watcher ensconced in the cocoon of her tower, scanning the horizon for "smokes." Completely alone, and wrapping herself in a fire-proof blanket of routine, Percy tries to insulate herself from the much more dangerous fires that burn from within.

It's the intrusion of the past that haunts her, as she struggles to escape disturbing family secrets, and the loss of Marlea, her best friend and sometime lover.As she reaches out to a new frienship, Percy faces a searing battle of the elements -- both emotional and physical -- that will redefine her whole life, her loves and losses. Cinematic in its style, erotic in tone, Burning Ground boldly explores desire, sexual identity and emotional risk, rising to a powerful ending, not easily forgotten.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A young woman at the isolated Envy River Tower keeps perpetual watch over the Canadian forest for signs of fire while exploring inner landscapes of memory and desire. Percy Turner, working alone in a forest service station for the seventh summer in a row, is plagued by emotional ambivalence and turmoil. She pursues an e-mail infatuation with a ranger whose voice on the daily radio reports intrigues her, but she does so mostly to distract herself from her obsessive, lifelong love for her childhood friend, Marlea. Though the two have been lovers off and on for years, Marlea's current relationship with a man creates clashes all around. Percy must also try to come to terms with the complicated madness of her deeply religious mother: suffering a breakdown after Percy's birth, she stood "by the side of the only highway into town with a placard reading: TAKE THIS CHILD OF THE DEVIL." Much of the book occurs in flashbacks set in the trailer park where the girls grew up; Luke frankly explores adolescent desire, including Percy's earliest fumblings with Marlea and a sadomasochistic affair with an older male neighbor. As an adult, Percy's sexuality is still ambiguous, mysterious even to her. The image of subterranean fire detailed in the book's prologue is a recurring theme, and although the metaphor may be too obvious for some "Hell is everywhere," Percy notes Luke manages not to overdo it. This debut, published last year in Canada to critical praise, skillfully layers its many conflicts into a haunting and memorable whole.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Priscilla "Percy" Turner is isolated from the world for half the year whenever she returns to Envy River Fire Tower, deep in the forest of northern Alberta. For the seventh year, she will spend April through September in a cabin whose tap water comes from a rain barrel below the eaves, near a generator shed, an outhouse, and a 100-foot tower she must climb several times a day. In the tower's cupola she scans for smoke from fires that can smolder underground undetected, then surface and quickly spread. Hidden fire is also what she feels for lifelong friend Marlea, who is with a man but wanders into Percy's arms on occasion. Their childhood friendship flashes back to Percy as she recalls her distant mother, who tried to give her away, claiming she was the devil's child and hurting her so deeply that later understanding of postpartum depression can't assuage her. When Percy does sight smoke, she sets off to confront the fires that threaten the forest and those that threaten her inner being. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
I adored this book, which I grabbed, I admit, from cover and brief write-up alone.

The notion of fire, and burning, tied up with the omnipresent Canadian Wilderness and Weather, becomes a moving portrait of passions in the life of the heroine, Percy Turner. The novel explores the isolation of a fire-watch tower in the wilderness, with only a hastily begun e-mail romance, and semi-regular supply drop-offs to break up the isolation. Percy travels in her minds eye, through her past, including her tempestuous relationship with a woman who still holds much of her heart, and her current budding relationship with a fellow fire tower watcher, a man who seems to spark new emotions within her.

Free will, erotic passions, losses and the notions of relationship detente are just some of the themes explored in this novel. The imagery sears.

Moving through the past, the present, and Percy's emotional potential future with an extreme grace, Pearl Luke's passions seem to smoulder on the pages, imagery tight with some of the most vivid prose I've ever read. I will definitely be looking out for her in the future, and happily reccommend this to anyone looking for a contemporary story that borders on the erotic while remaining truly expressive and character-driven. Even the conclusion of the story kept me gripped, and I put the book down at its completion with a real sense of fulfillment.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't make up my mind! Oct. 7 2002
By Jess
I picked the book out because I read the woman was working in a fire tower, and Ranger Gord happens to be my fav. Red Green SHow charactor so I figured I'd see what it was about (And there WAS a Ranger gord in this story, how ironic:)
I'm 16 years old so I'm not quite used to reading literature so erotic and bold when it comes to sexual content. It scared me a little at first, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue the book or not, but I did and I'm glad I did! I thought that perhaps, like the one girl in seattle said, maybe I'm just a bit too immature to be reading something like this. but I thought what the heck, and put myself past it. It's not like I'm not used to swearing and talking about sex, heck, I go to hight school, lol.
The book had a powerful menaing to it, all about finding you true inner self and what's important to yourself. It's about learning to tell apart the truth from the lies you tell yourself. Good book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Where there's smoke March 31 2002
Working in a fire tower deep in the Canadian forest, Percy Turner uses the isolation as a wall against people, and uses the time for reflection on her past and future. She has a strained relationship with her parents, burdened by family secrets, and her childhood friend & longtime lover Marlea can't seem to choose whether to be with Percy or with her current boyfriend (not that Percy has had a stellar record keeping faithful to Marlea either). Through an internet exchange with a fellow fire tower worker, Percy slowly begins piecing her life back together. Pearl Luke's compelling story is sprinkled with fascinating facts about fires that make this tale so unique. She eloquently shows us that desire and attraction aren't always as clear cut as we like to think.
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