The Stars Are Fire

Inspired by the true story of Maine's largest fire in 1947, Anita Shreve takes readers into the fictional life of Grace Holland; her husband, Gene; their two children; and their respective in-laws. Grace is a stay-at-home mom, content for the most part, despite the controlling influence of her husband and the lack of passion she feels toward him.

Suddenly an out-of-control fire races along the Maine coastline, threatening her family. With Gene gone to fight the flames, it's up to Grace to save herself and her children by cowering in the ocean. When the danger passes, she is homeless, penniless and cannot find her husband, but without his dominance, she finds inner strengths and passions she never knew she had. She learns to drive, gets a job and discovers that life is rich and vibrant, full of open doors she only dreamt of finding when living with Gene.

In this mood-centric, romantic novel, Shreve interweaves Grace's musings about her desires with the day-to-day details of life for a woman with two small children who has few worldly experiences, but must forge ahead if she hopes to live. Authentically set in a postwar coastal town, where the year-round residents and the rich don't usually mingle, Shreve conveys the proper tone of obedience and married obligations while exploring the ambitions, desires and drives of a woman suddenly experiencing freedom and her own strength for the first time. Grace's gradual awakening to her own abilities is deftly depicted and leaves readers haunted by her story long after the last page. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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