The Stars Are Fire

The Stars Are Fire

A Novel

Book - 2017
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From the New York Times best-selling author of The Weight of Water and The Pilot's Wife (an Oprah's Book Club selection): an exquisitely suspenseful new novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event and its devastating aftermath--based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine's history

In October 1947, after a summer long drought, fires break out all along the Maine coast from Bar Harbor to Kittery and are soon racing out of control from town to village. Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her husband, Gene, joins the volunteer firefighters. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie's two young children, Grace watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground, the flames finally forcing them all into the ocean as a last resort. The women spend the night frantically protecting their children, and in the morning find their lives forever changed: homeless, penniless, awaiting news of their husbands' fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. In the midst of this devastating loss, Grace discovers glorious new freedoms--joys and triumphs she could never have expected her narrow life with Gene could contain--and her spirit soars. And then the unthinkable happens--and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385350907
Characteristics: 241 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

To say this is the story of a woman, says nothing yet it says everything. Grace is married to Gene and they have settled into their mutually defined roles. A fire erupts and destroys everything in its path including the town where they live, their family home and ultimately the life they knew. Gr... Read More »

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Jan 30, 2018

The New York Times reviewer of this book says: ‘The historical record of Maine's Great Fires is a literary opportunist's delight.’ Shreve sets her novel with the 1947 fires at its center with Grace Holland, a young mother and fire survivor, as its main character.

I’ve read Shreve before and spent time on the coast of Maine so enjoyed this story and its setting. Born in 1947 myself, it was an interesting look at that post-World War II time for women. Good light reading.

Jan 21, 2018

One of the best of 2017.

Jan 13, 2018

Intrigued with the historical details of the fire. I found the female characters interesting, the male characters less so. The ending wrapped up too neatly for all. I am a fan of A. Shreve, loved The Weight of Water.

AL_JILLK Nov 27, 2017

Enjoyable read with an interesting writing style. Strong female character faces a devastating and historical Maine wildfire.

Nov 15, 2017

Well crafted story, perfect, except a quick mention of Gene in love with a French woman during the war, which doesn’t work for him, only served to tell readers everything.
Grace may be one of the most memorable genuine female characters portrayed in lit New England.

Aug 20, 2017

I absolutely loved this novel. I love her writing style too; her very clipped sentences.
The story is very moving and is told with no excess of words. This surely is her best
novel yet. Don't read Publishers Weekly or Library Journal above because they spoil the plot
with too much information. ugh. ugh. dumb.and shame on them.

Aug 04, 2017

Great historical fiction, 1950s everyday woman's survival tale!

Aug 03, 2017

Inspired by stories of the largest fire in Maine history occurring in 1947, the protagonist is a young mother of two kids who saves her family while losing all of their material possession. The husband is missing and Grace discovers her own strength and resilience. It is a heartbreaking account of how wives are devalued and the how the patriarchy operated then to grind women down. Ending was disappointing because it was too uplifting and neat to actually fit with the story.

Jul 07, 2017

This is my first book by author Anita Shreve. I found the narrative gripping. Her prose is so evocative. While reading, when I had to leave the book to do something else: the story would stay in my head. I felt like, when you have a very vivid dream; and upon awakening, you are still in it. I am going to read the Pilot's wife next. Loved the book.

Jul 04, 2017

This is similar to The Pilot’s Wife in that the marital relationship is strained. Only in the post-war 1940’s its worse, because there are so few opportunities for a wife to succeed on her own. Married to a man who doesn’t love her, Grace knows “she made her bed and has to sleep in it” but when her husband disappears while fighting a forest fire, Grace has the opportunity to learn how strong she is as she becomes the sole provider for her two children and her mother. The return of her husband who has been badly burned and is furious she has created her own life and friendships with other men, makes Grace’s life miserable. But like all good fairytales, Grace lives happily ever after in the end. This is a good beach book.

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