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Who by Fire

4.74  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Who by Fire breaks new literary ground: A complex tale of love, betrayal, and the search for self. A male narrator tells the story he does not actually know but discovers through memory, through piecing the puzzles of his marriage, through his wife's goodness and her betrayal. He confronts paradox with music, science and conflagration he witnessed in his native Iowa. Under ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published November 12th 2012 by Outer Banks Publishing Group
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Jaki Scarcello
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am staying at the moment in a small Spanish vinca in the
countryside of Ibiza.
The days are cool and the evenings are cold. We sit by the fire and
read and it is here that I have traveled the journey of Lena and
Robert, Issac and Evan. 
My own life journey has had its dark sections of road and I know that my actions  have caused some pain along the way. But  aged wisdom has also brought understanding and to answer Robert's question, yes, the interminable journey of longing, which leads to forgive
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
At a glance Robert witnesses a tiny gesture between Lena as she lay dying, and her coworker Isaac. Betrayal is revealed and Robert tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together.��

Mary Tabor creates a multidimensional cerebral piece of literary work. Who by Fire ��is a story of betrayal, loss, regrets, love and forgiveness. The story brings to light the fragility of love and relationships. How drifting apart can cause a fissure beyond repair. When denial is your blanket for your worst fears. Whe
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Robert has been betrayed by his wife. Not only in the physical sense, but she has always withheld the core of her being from their marriage and their life together. She rests lightly in the world.

He wants to find and forgive both Lena and himself. And so he takes his memories, what he "knows", fills in the blanks, and constructs a story.

Unanchored since the death of her parents, and, in secret, the abortion that left her barren, Lena believes she is both guilty and unforgivable. She lives and sp
Anne Ruff
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a love triangle, or a love quadrangle, in the way that To the Lighthouse is the story of a dinner party. While the story line in Who By Fire brings us through a full spectrum of emotions that most readers will recognize from disparate parts of our own lives, the telling of the story, the structure of the narrator and his memories, unfolds in a completely unusual non-linear way. For me, the book functions like a painting in process. We see the artist/author focus on different ...more
Isabelle B.L
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In betrayal there are no sides one can take. I couldn't help but care for each one of the characters. Mary has written a beautiful book that enabled me to feel empathy for all of them. Guilt, forgiveness, life and death are all dealt with such skill and craftsmanship. Moreover, her references to music, food and literature add a necessary and fascinating backdrop. ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How does one begin to understand a lover's infidelity? The questions, the self-doubt, the searching. The imagining. How does one capture that loss in a novel?

Who by Fire is not an easy read. It's a complex work, with strands of past and present, real and imagined interwoven and layered into a rich tapestry of emotion. Like the characters it depicts, like the lives of its readers. The novel searches for an understanding of love, loss and death with images that cycle through classical music, anci
Alicia Britton
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Who by Fire” is a story of a man who seeks to know his wife, Lena. Why can’t he please her? Why is his love not enough? And why is it Isaac’s affection she craves? “He wasn’t worthy and she was no fool…”

Robert, the betrayed husband and the narrator of this story, searches for answers in one of the most prominent political and cultural centers of the world, the Washington, D.C. area. He tells his wife’s story in her language–in symbols, psalms, word puzzles, and non-sequiturs. Robert finds himse
Colm Herron
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read novels where the hero dies at the end – ingenious novels with breathtaking final twists. But now I have just finished reading one in which the hero dies at the beginning. Who By Fire, told by a betrayed husband, is a wonderful, tragic love story narrated by a man called Robert whose wife Lena – the hero and adulteress – dies before he has had a chance to truly love her.

The story he tells involves her goodness, her adultery and her guilt, the latter two of which happened because Rober
Michael Jarvis
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An evocative and poetic exploration of marriage, loss, and guilt—

Who by Fire is a story of adultery told in meticulous fragments which look back to chronicle an affair conducted by the narrator’s wife, the disintegrating relationship leading to it, the physical demise of the woman, the affair, life itself. She is the focal point and the object of her husband’s affection and concern as he struggles through jealousy and sadness to deconstruct and understand their story, as well as that of the othe
Jennifer Cooreman
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book like Who by Fire. It's so masterfully written that the characters seem real. Not in the typical "I'll lose myself in a good book for a few hours" sense. Truly real, as in, the characters seem more human and nuanced than I feel myself at times. Tabor makes observations about the human heart, pain and how history affects our choices that are wise and cut to the bone. The story moves seamlessly between the characters' pain and its relevance to my own life - almost like I'm re ...more
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
To me, one of the characteristics of a great book is a set of characters who stay in my thoughts when I'm not reading the book. While I was reading this book, questions like "did he really love her?" and "what would she have done if..." would surface in my thoughts throughout the day as the storyline unfolded and I became more familiar with the 4 central characters. The beauty of Mary Tabor's writing in Who By Fire is that she doesn't spell things out certain things about her characters explicit ...more
Richard Kramer
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This brief, elegant, passionate novel accumulates and gathers force like a poem, in which language is compressed and edited and
somehow bursts its bounds as it goes along. It made me want to write a book just like it, although
I don't have Mary Tabor's wisdom and insight and willingness to stay so intently focused. Maybe someday ... Until
then, I can heartily recommend this, maybe especially to people who haven't written a novel but who want to, because
WHO BY FIRE can show you what a novel can be.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful novel filled with secrets, lovers, and all of the complicated dealings of the heart. I thoroughly enjoyed Tabor's writing style and the way that she captured each character's role in life and love perfectly. You will walk away from reading this thinking about each of your own romantic relationships, and the impact they have had on your life.
Deborah Schaumberg
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
WHO BY FIRE is a captivating and deeply moving novel about the intricate layers of human relationships. Author Mary Tabor takes us on a journey into the hearts and minds of her characters with beautifully written prose and poetic metaphor. It's a story of love and loss and forgiveness. ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Poignant look at the complexity of longterm love. Poetic, literary, richly human.
Karen Cole
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Jan 13, 2013
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Mary L. Tabor is the author of Who by Fire: A Novel (November 2012) with a book club where she interviews other authors about their books: Join and discover authors in person. Mary is also the author of (Re)Making Love: A Memoir, available on Amazon Her book The Woman Who Never Cooked won Mid-List Press’s First Series Award. (BTW, I ...more

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