The Stars Are Fire

Anita Shreve. Knopf, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-35090-7
Stuck in a loveless and uncommunicative marriage with her husband, Gene, young housewife and mother Grace Holland has resigned herself to a future of childcare and housework. It’s just after World War II, and there aren’t many other opportunities for married women in coastal Maine. But when, after a summer-long drought, a massive fire breaks out and threatens her home and community, Grace may have an unexpected chance not only to rebuild but also to rewrite her personal narrative. Shreve (Stella Bain) writes with fondness of the coastal New England landscape, and she provides plenty of vintage details to evoke postwar life. Characterizations, however, are less convincing; Gene’s cruelty to Grace seems disproportionate to its purported rationale, and the novel’s final pages feel implausible and anachronistic, even given Grace’s newfound self-reliance. Nevertheless, many readers will be buoyed by Grace’s strength and resourcefulness and will be eager to debate the ethical decisions she makes as she seizes her independence. 200,000-copy announced first printing. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2017
Release date: 04/18/2017
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-8041-4766-8
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-5247-8025-8
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-345-80636-9
Ebook - 978-0-385-35091-4
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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