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Fireworks Over Toccoa Paperback – March 15, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Veteran television writer Stepakoff breathes new life into a familiar plot and setting in his debut novel. Lily Davis Woodward, once a headstrong, independent dreamer, acquiesced at age 17 to her wealthy parents' wishes and married Paul Woodward, the perfect high society Atlanta husband. Two weeks later, Paul ships out to serve on the European front, and Lily tends the home fires until the summer of 1945, when Lily, about to see her husband for the first time in three years, meets Jake Russo. The pyrotechnics man, who's planning the fireworks for the local July 4 celebration, spurs Lily to wonder whether her life is what she really wants. Sparks predictably fly, and after several passionate days, Lily is torn between what's expected of her and the chance to pursue an exciting and adventure-filled life. For sure, forbidden love's been done to death, but Stepakoff's spellbinding descriptions of Jake's unusual line of work and the lush countryside of northern Georgia, the unexpected plot twists, and a surprise ending give this story plenty of oomph. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Television writer Stepakoff, author of Billion Dollar Kiss (2007), turns to fiction with a sweet, nostalgic tale set at the end of World War II. The daughter of a prominent family in Toccoa, Georgia, child bride Lily Davis Woodward hasn’t seen her husband, Paul, since he was shipped off to war three years ago. She is now nervously anticipating his return, until she comes across a handsome stranger named Jake setting off fireworks in a lush field. The chemistry between them is explosive, and before long, Lily finds herself showing Jake the secret abandoned cabin where she goes to create her artwork and entering into a torrid affair with him. Lily is predictably torn between love and duty, and wrestles with her desire to be with Jake and her fear of upsetting her genteel parents and the husband she barely knows by running away with him. Pleasant if not groundbreaking, Stepakoff’s fiction debut should appeal to readers who liked The Bridges of Madison County (1992) and other tearjerkers that celebrate forbidden but passionate love. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312673515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312673512
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,902,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Stepakoff was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a BA in Journalism. In 1988, the day after getting his MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie Mellon, he drove to Hollywood where he began writing for film and television.

Stepakoff has written for fourteen different TV series, including the Emmy-winning THE WONDER YEARS, SISTERS, and DAWSON'S CREEK where he was Co-Executive Producer. He has also created and developed pilots for many of the major studios and networks, including 20th Century, Paramount, MTM, Fox, and ABC. And he has developed and written major motion pictures, including Disney's TARZAN and BROTHER BEAR.

A few years ago Stepakoff began pursuing his long-held dream of writing fiction. FIREWORKS OVER TOCCOA, a SIBA Okra Pick and an Indie Next List Notable, is his first novel. Stepakoff's second novel, THE ORCHARD, comes out in July 2011. His fiction is available now in six languages.

Presently, Stepakoff lives in Atlanta with his wife and three young children, and is working on his third novel for St. Martin's Press. In his spare time, he builds forts in living room with sofa cushions.

Join him at: www.facebook.com/JeffreyStepakoff

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In large pot add one part "The Bridges of Madison County", two parts "The Notebook", cover with Coca Cola and sprinkle with one heaping teaspoon pyrotechnics. Consume in front of a crackling fire with a bottle of your favorite wine, keeping tissues handy in case of overflow.

Author Stepakoff has crafted the perfect book. I was so riveted by FIREWORKS OVER TOCCOA that I stayed up half the night reading. I won't describe the plot because the product description has already done that. What I will do is rave about how engrossing the characters were, and how gripping the plot, and how deep the heartache is in this fine little book which is destined to be a national bestseller. It has all the ingredients of a hit movie, as well.

The only drawback that I could find was one lengthy and overly graphic love scene, which may somewhat limit the scope of the reading audience. I know I would think twice before passing it on to, say, one of my mother's friends. And I most definitely would not want to be the high school teacher suggesting that his students read it, although I know they would LOVE it.

That said, the rest of the book is flawless. One will laugh, cry, think, and ponder their life's choices while reading FIREWORKS OVER TOCCOA. Read this book as soon as you can get your hands on a copy. It's that good.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I just finished reading "Fireworks Over Toccoa" by Jeffrey Stepakoff. This is the first book he has written, although he has been a successful playright for many years.

The story begins in the present time, and takes the reader back to the 1940's, right when America entered WW2. The setting is in Toccoa, a small city outside of Atlanta, and the story focuses on the life of Lily Davis Woodward.

Lily's father, Walter Davis, is a Coca Cola executive, and the family is considered very prestigious in their small town. Lily married very young, and her mother, Honey, has many expectations involving Lily's marriage. Lily's husband to be, Paul Woodward, is an employee of her father's, and was considered to be a good match for Lily.

Soon after Lily and Paul's wedding, Paul was sent overseas to help fight in WW2. Lily was left at home, like many women in those days, to set up their house and to contribute from home to the war effort. The sense of pride to be an American was deftly woven through this story.

Shortly before Paul is due to come home, a little over three years from the date he left, a family owned fireworks expert comes to town, to put on the grand 4th of July show for the members of the community. Lily hadn't remembered ever seeing a fireworks show, and in that day and age, the material used to make the colorful fireworks displays was needed for the war effort.

When Lily has a chance encounter with Jake Russo, who is in charge of the show, Lily learns all about the art of making fireworks, and her life changes forever.

I won't describe any more of the plot, as I feel it is best left for the reader to discover.

I feel that there was more that I liked about this story than what I didn't like.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Fireworks over Toccoa, we are transported back to the end of World War II, when Lily was awaiting the return of a husband she hadn't seen for three years, and had only known in marriage for two weeks. A few days before his return, Lily fell suddenly in love with Jake, a pyrotechnics specialist she met in a field, under the fallout of dazzling fireworks. Decades later, discovering a memento of past love, she tells her story to a museum curator and her granddaughter, Colleen, who is anxious about her impending marriage.

Unlike most reviewers here, I cannot rave about Fireworks Over Toccoa, although I recommend it with reservations. It is a mildly enjoyable read, oriented toward lovers of romance, with the same theme as Bridges of Madison County, but lacking R.J. Waller's flair with simple, evocative language.

However, the novel does have believable characters and realistic, natural dialogue. It allows us to experience yearning for all-encompassing soul-and-body love, to taste it fully but confront the difficult choice of whether to let it go. It enables us to enter into the minds of the characters, and experience both romantic fulfillment and the confusing clash of conflicting emotions, such as Lily experienced after an evening with Jake: "She just stared at him, pondering. Had he changed his mind? Had she imagined it? Was she the one initiating it? She suddenly realized that she was sitting in this car, but she wasn't starting it. She was ready to stay and ready to go."

On the other hand, we do frequently have to tolerate trite language, and occasionally ponderous descriptions: "As she looked up, light refracted in the tawny trails still lingering like viscous nectar from a great tupelo comb hewn and oozing and over the clouds.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While I loved the romantic aspect of this book, what impressed me most was the beautiful setting of the town of Toccoa, GA and the small town charm it exudes. The townspeople were sharply drawn and details made you feel like you have met them and you can picture them in the sure-to-be-made movie. The book begins with Colleen and Drew discussing their upcoming wedding and then shifts to Colleen going to visit her grandmother Lily and she is showing uncertainty regarding the upcoming vows. When Lily reads the headline in the day's newspaper she is startled to discover that a long ago buried explosive artillery shell with a formula written in Italian was found and is on display at the local museum. She and Colleen go to the museum and tell the Captain working there that the formula is actually a fireworks formula written especially for Lily years ago by her lover in 1945.
Lily was a married woman of three years and her husband was off at war and due home soon. Having lived in Toccoa in a wealthy family Lily was known by the entire town and her parents, she was expected to endure social niceties and behave with decorum. While driving home from the grocery store and pulls her car off the side of the road where she meets the man who is setting up a fireworks display. His name is Jake Russo and when Lily gets too close to his display he throws her to the ground to save her life and an instant bond is formed. They share dinner and friendship and much more in a four day span before her husband, Paul, is due home from war.
This book is romantic and delves deeply into the war time and how small town life was simpler and beautiful and brings it back to present day to wrap up Lily's story and how a chance meeting can change the course of one's life.
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