Rediscover: Anita Shreve

American short story writer and novelist Anita Shreve died last week at age 71. Born and raised in Massachusetts to a pilot father and homemaker mother, she attended Tufts University and began her writing career while working as a high school teacher. "Past the Island, Drifting," one of Shreve's first published works, received an O. Henry Prize in 1976. After Strange Fits of Passion (1991) and Resistance (1995), The Weight of Water (1997) was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Based on the Smuttynose Island murders in 1870s New Hampshire, The Weight of Water was adapted into a film starring Sean Penn and directed by Kathryn Bigelow in 2000. The Pilot's Wife (1998) was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 1999 while Shreve was teaching creative writing at Amherst College.

The Pilot's Wife is the first in a series of novels set in a New Hampshire beach house that was once a convent. It follows Kathryn Lyons, who discovers her husband's hidden secrets after he dies in a plane crash. Fortune's Rocks (1999), Sea Glass (2002) and Body Surfing (2007) all take place in the same seaside home with various families between the 19th-century and modern day. Shreve's most recent novel, The Stars Are Fire, follows a mother of two during the 1947 forest fires in Maine that killed 16 people. It was published in paperback on March 27 by Vintage ($16, 9780345806369). --Tobias Mutter

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