The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on April 18th 2017
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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.From the Hardcover edition.
I was drawn into this story and the character of Grace almost immediately , I could picture her life in her little house by the ocean. I could hear the despair in her voice as she describes her marriage to Gene, who I quickly began to dislike. Gene seemed complex, distant and I could sense a meanness lying deep within him. The way that Grace describes their intimate moments had me feeling so bad for Grace that she had to endure his touching her. Rosie, her best friend and neighbor was full of fun and seemed to enjoy her husbands touch and that left Grace wondering how that would feel, to enjoy your husband. Grace becomes pregnant from one horrible night where her husband brutally had sex with her, nowadays we would call that abuse but back then , in the 1940’s, unfortunately the women called it their duty. Poor Grace receives horrible advise from her mother about this unwanted pregnancy and turns to her friend Rosie, Grace confides in Rosie the truth about her marriage. As I got to know Grace , I sense a strength to her character and she is a strong character. This strength is proven when on the horrible night of the fire Grace saves the lives of herself , her two children as well as Rosie and her two children. The husbands are nowhere to be found as they went of to help contain the fire. At this point the true story of Grace’s strength is told and how she creates a new independent life for herself and her little family. Through all of this I was so happy for Grace, she found freedom and independence, unfortunately through a tragic event but all the same she got away from Gene.
I will not spoil the book but I will say there is a very unfortunate turn of events for Grace and her strength is tested in a way that would be my worst nightmare. Fortunately for Grace there is a happy ending to her story.
This is one of my all time favorite books so far this year. The writing was so descriptive that I felt like I was there with Grace.