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The stars are fire : a novel
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Grace Holland (Female), Pregnant, Married, Her husband joined the volunteer firefighters during an outbreak of fires; left alone to protect her two toddlers; watches helplessly as their houses burn to the ground
Small town life
Husbands and wives
Psychological trauma
Loveless marriage
New beginnings
Maine - New England (U.S.)
Time Period
1947 -- 20th century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Shreve's (Stella Bain) latest brings readers to 1947 coastal Maine. In a close-knit town, Grace Holland, a young mother of two, enjoys camaraderie with her neighbor Rosie. She feels herself relax into discussions with Rosie that she can't have with her taciturn husband or her loving but rather rigid mother. In a time when the only advance warning for fire is the smell of smoke, residents prepare ahead of time. Grace wakes to the sound of her daughter coughing, bundles her children into the baby carriage, and carries them to the beach, where she thinks quickly enough to prepare protective wet air pockets from blankets, ordering Rosie to do the same. As the town burns around her, Grace rises to handle each astonishing ordeal as she meets it. VERDICT Based on the harrowing true story of the largest fire to ravage the coast of Maine, this is sure to be a best seller. Shreve's prose mirrors the action of the fire, with popping embers of action, licks of blazing rage, and the slow burn of lyrical character development. Absolutely stunning. [See Prepub Alert, 11/16/16; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/15/17.]- Julie Kane, Washingrton & Lee Lib., Lexington, VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER <br> <br> 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<br> <br> 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.
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