The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve is published in the UK on 2nd May, and I was delighted to be asked to take part in a blog tour to celebrate the upcoming publication. And I’m even more delighted to say that I loved this book!
Read on to find out more and read my honest review.
1947. Fires are racing along the coast of Maine after a summer-long drought, ravaging thousands of acres, causing unprecedented confusion and fear.
Five months pregnant, Grace Holland is left alone to protect her two toddlers when her difficult and unpredictable husband Gene joins the volunteers fighting to bring the fire under control. Along with her best friend, Rosie, and Rosie’s two young children, the women watch in horror as their houses go up in flames, then walk into the ocean as a last resort. They spend the night frantically trying to save their children. When dawn comes, they have miraculously survived, but their lives are forever changed: homeless, penniless, and left to face an uncertain future.
As Grace awaits news of her husband’s fate, she is thrust into a new world in which she must make a life on her own, beginning with absolutely nothing; she must find work, a home, a way to provide for her children. In the midst of 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.
It has been several years since I’ve read an Anita Shreve novel, so I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read her brand new novel as part of the blog tour. And I was sucked in from the very start.
Grace is in a difficult marriage – her husband Gene is unresponsive, particularly since the death of his mother, and she struggles with two very young children and a third on the way. She seems very much resigned to her life yet at the start of the novel reminds herself that she is lucky to have what she has.
But then disaster strikes. Fires are raging through Maine and husband Gene goes off to help, leaving Grace to protect the children. Following some very dramatic scenes, Grace finds herself living in the empty house of Gene’s dead mother – and this is when Grace’s strength and character starts to shine through.
I absolutely loved this book and was completely mesmerised by Grace’s story and how she dealt with what life had thrown at her. She is incredibly strong yet very real, and I strongly sympathised with her, despite the quite simple writing style. The novel is written in a very factual and matter of fact way, which makes it quick and easy to read, but also worked very well as it lets the reader fill in the gaps. I thought the descriptions of the house in which Grace finds herself were amazing, and I thought it was very interesting of the author to show how something good had come out of something very bad – and in fact Grace’s life might be better for it.
But of course things are never simple and life never runs smoothly for Grace! I certainly don’t want to include any spoilers here but would strongly encourage readers to check this out for themselves.
This is a novel for anyone who loves character-driven stories, with a real sense of time and place. I find it hard to fault the book as I absolutely loved it, and it has definitely encouraged me to revisit Shreve and read some of her previous novels.
My rating: 10 out of 10