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The Fires of Spring

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,139 ratings  ·  72 reviews
"A warm-hearted, readable story, crammed with lively incident and remarkable characters."
David Harper was an orphan, loney and impoverished. But his longing to embrace the world that abandoned him was stronger than the harsh realities. And even though he's a con man and petty thief at a carnival, he still dreams. For it was there that David learned about love a
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 12th 1982 by Fawcett (first published 1949)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  1,139 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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I love JA Michener's writing and his books. I even overlook the formulaic way most of his works are built because he does it with grace and difference and hits all the right notes. But this one. . . .

First - I'd never heard of it, and it wasn't named after a place/tribe/community/land mass. What?? the hard copy I'd found was european, and there was a couple about to kiss on the front. . .not the usual. It looked shorter than your usual Michener book, and finally, I cracked it open.

I was stuck t
Adam Nelson
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favorite Michener novel yet (I've read about 5, I think). This is the ambling, sometimes rambling, story of a young man's experience growing up in the midst of the development of the notion of Americana (I can't think of a better way to put it--it's not the typical American experience, necessarily, but as he dabbles in vaudeville and running a con game at a ticket booth on a boardwalk and editing and publishing pulp trash, I think Americana is a safe way of putting it). It's about hi ...more
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Maybe books are best, because you don't have to have money to read... A man can travel all over the world and come back the same kind of fool he was when he started. You can't do that with books."

—Old Daniel, The Fires of Spring, P. 42

One might wonder after reading this book if the great James A. Michener missed his calling as a novelist for teens. The Fires of Spring is his lone young-adult offering, and it's as sincere and soul-revealing as anything by Mabel L. Robinson, Walter Dean Myers, or
David (דוד)
Rating: 3.33 stars

The Fires of Spring by James A. Michener is a coming-of-age story of a poor kid, raised initially by his 'evil' aunt in the United States of America, and set in the early times of the twentieth century (1910s-30s). The story is about everything that he learns and the ways in which he learns them with different means. Starting with his life in a poorhouse, working at Paradise Park, his way into the university, working in the theatre, and his ambition to write a book. The above i
Doris Jean
Apr 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
The springtime of a youthful man.
Aditya /
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book started as a 5 star book, then became 4 stars, then 3 stars, then 2 stars, then 1 star. Throughout the book, the writer's talent was amazing. Initially I thought this book was nobel-prize worthy, but then it just got worse and worse and worse and worse! The talent was still there, the book just became unpleasant to read. I think it should be split into 4 novellas and that noone should read past the 2nd novella, or that everything past the 2nd one (everything after Dedham) needs to have ...more
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In my list of top ten books. I read it as a youth and it moulded my life and gave me understand myself better - because in many ways I am like Harper.I reread it recently and I still felt it's beautiful sting. ...more
Milt Jacobs
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was in poor condition when I got it. As I read, pages kept falling off. Fortunately, it was always pages I had read. Now I get to the end and am not sure that all the pages at the end are there. I can't tell from how it ended. But I'm going to count this book as read. Maybe I'll come across this book in it's entirety. ...more
Chris Heivly
May 11, 2022 rated it it was amazing
My Dad gave this to me to read when I was sick for a few weeks in middle school.
I have read it at least 4x. I have given away at least 15 copies over the years.

If you have read some James Michener, do not use that as a barometer for this book. I think it might have been his first book. It does NOT follow the same format he is know for.

It is a coming of age book set in Pennsylvania on the 30's.

There are so many "life lesson" statements and mind bending lines in this.
Christopher Sutch
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
To say that Michener's first novel is unreadable goes a bit too far. In fact, the style is smooth if not very artful (people "beam" at each other, or "smile" or do other things that lack any sort of real description). The problem is, rather, that everything that happens in the plot is utterly banal and boring. The novel is semi-autobiographical; I suppose that it may even be a story that Michener felt he must tell (or that he adhered too closely to the advice, "Write what you know"). Worse, thes ...more
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first Michener novel I ever read - over 30 years since I picked up my sister's paperback copy. Found a hardback edition online. An opportunity to relive this great coming-of-age story, which hooked me into Dostoevsky and several other classic authors whose works are discussed and quoted in the book. A big influence on my life at the time. ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it. Early Michener, filled with his usual philosophical observations and anticipatory exclamations. It was before he wrote the research-oriented books, and I'm sure it's semi-autobiographical. In any event, he is so good at describing where he is that it does give the reader a great sense of life in the U.S. circa 1920-1934. ...more
Sonia Reppe
It's the first James Michener book I've read and one of the best books I've ever read. I have mixed feelings about the end, about the girl David ends up with, but I mostly loved the story and the writing, which is so alive. ...more
May 23, 2008 rated it liked it
I read this book in High School and then again a few years ago. I really enjoyed it, both times. It was actually one of the only books I fully read in High School.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: michener
I love Michener. Whether it's something he wrote in the '60s or in the '90s, he always engages me with his storytelling abilities. ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Have read, and re-read many times. Michener draws me in without fanfare or drama.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only Michener book I truly adored. I really liked seeing the world through the eyes of the protagonist. I recommend this one.
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Still one of my favorite books. This novel was the launching pad of my reading all the books I read as a youth and that I emerald even to this day.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
His first published novel. No one writes like Michener. Wonderful.
Many, many years ago I read The Drifters by James A. Michener and he became one of my favorite authors. This was when reading one of his books was the total of my reading for pleasure for the entire year, except for the occasional V. C. Andrews. Eclectic taste, wouldn’t you say?

Reading The Fires of Spring was a blast to the past. Not his typical tomes beginning with how the world was created.

The story takes place in the early 1900s. David Harper, an orphan, lived in a poorhouse as a ward of his
Nov 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished this…only took me three years!!

I actually liked this quite a bit, but I felt that young Michener was a little draconian in his declarations. In theory this is a semi-autobiographical look at how he grew up to become a writer. While elements are certainly relatable (the poorhouse, Doylestown, his orphan status), I'm not sure about the rest of it…for instance, I'm not so sure he was a carny. But I could be incorrect. Anywho, the book follows an orphan from the poorhouse through hi
Kay Hawkins
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easiest way to describe this book is as Michener's David Copperfield. But this time David is growing up in the early 1900's. It's a coming of age Novel and a very enjoyable one at that. This is not like Michener's other novels where it is more historical and factual. this one is based well on a time period but only from knowledge.
I really enjoyed this I fail to be disappointed.
Jennifer Montgomery
Beautifully written

The story itself was not one I could get very invested in. I loved the beginning showing the young idealistic boy not realizing the poverty he was living in. But as he became a teenager and his hormones took over, the story lost me. I still appreciate how beautiful the prose is.
Amanda Squires
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best Michener

In my opinion it is the best because it speaks of Aspects of America in stress fulled times and with a real appreciation of small people coping and identifies with mental and physical ordeals..
Johanna Strother
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coming of age

Though not on the level of some of his later work, this was a good coming of age story to which I could relate. The characters were interesting and I wanted to keep reading until the end
Phyllis J. Carnathan
The Fires of spring

I can't say that I enjoyed this book it was so long and his life was so complicated you feel like he could never solve it all hopefully in the end his life was changed for the better that's about all you can say and maybe a little happiness to end the book
Bill Shelton
Dec 31, 2021 rated it liked it
Michener picks up speed in artful prose in the last 50 pages or so, almost enough to wrest a fourth star from me, but I can see why this bildungsroman was not one of his award winners. Very engaging reading, if uneven and sometimes unbelievable in words and behavior of the hero.
Joseph Prestianni
Aug 05, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unexpected read

I read this book very quickly and like all of his
books the writing captivates you drawing you in to a story you don’t expect . Unlike his other novels I was able to guess what would happen next and was right a few times
Donald Schopflocher
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-long-ago
First coming of age novel I remember reading.
Carol Stanton
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vivid pictures of human nature

I choose this rating because, and in all his writings, Michener entertains and educates in a seamless flow of words.
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for

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