THE SMOKE JUMPER

Nicholas Evans, Author, Eric Conger, Read by , read by Eric Conger. Bantam $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-52870-1

With fists over their hearts, best friends Connor Ford and Ed Tully shout out "hearts of fire" before parachuting into devastating forest fires to extinguish them. Working side by side in life-threatening circumstances, this unlikely pair (Connor is a Montana cowboy and freelance photographer; Ed is a Chicago musician and would-be playwright) bond through their summer job. Ed's girlfriend, Julia, counsels troubled teens in the Montana wilderness and, though neither one acknowledged it, when Connor and Julia met sparks flew. All three of their lives change irreparably when Julia is trapped in a raging forest fire. Ed becomes blinded during the rescue, and Connor saves Julia. Julia marries Ed out of a sense of responsibility, and a frustrated Connor leaves for years to travel the globe as a war photographer. Although it sounds like an extravagant soap opera, and occasionally feels that way, Evans's (The Horse Whisperer and The Loop) latest novel is about more than just a complicated love triangle. From its opening line, "The important things in life always happen by accident," this is a tale of fate and the search for happiness and self-fulfillment. Conger's strong, clear reading has an edge accentuating the danger of Connor's life, yet at the same time his voice is a source of integrity and calm that anchors the story. Simultaneous release with the Delacorte hardcover. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 11/05/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Genre: Audio
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52869-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 576 pages
Paperback - 484 pages - 978-0-7515-3938-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-71456-2
Hardcover - 705 pages - 978-0-375-43140-1
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