The Stars Are Fire
by Anita Shreve
Why did you choose this book? I liked the cover and it was topical
When did you read this book? October 2017
Who should read this book? Readers of historical fiction
Source: library ebook
My Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4 Stars
Here is a synopsis of The Stars Are Fire from Goodreads
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. They 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. Then the unthinkable happens and Grace's bravery is tested as never before.
I first saw this book last spring and the cover drew me to it immediately! Then I read the synopsis and liked it enough to download and read the preview. It was good, but the reserve list was long, and I had other books to read. Then last month I had a reading lull with nothing that I had to get read immediately. I went through my Overdrive wishlist and saw this one was available. That was about the time the wildfires were destroying Napa valley, so the book seemed very timely. I downloaded it and started reading immediately.
I really enjoyed this book. First, I learned something. I had no idea that Maine had suffered this disaster. In addition to bringing to life the fire and its aftermath, the story gave me a good feel as to what it was like to live in post-war America. Men still went out to work and left the women to tend to the home and children. Except in rare cases married women were not allowed to have careers, and keeping the marriage together no matter how unhappy the couple might be was what was expected. Most women washed the family laundry by hand, and it was a big deal if your husband surprised you with a wringer washer—most likely you were the only family in the neighborhood with one!
I liked the main character very much. Grace was a strong woman who persevered. She lost her home, her husband went missing, and still she found a way to keep a roof over her children’s heads.I did not like her husband, Gene, much at all. While it seemed at times that he tried to be a good husband, in the sense he worked hard to provide for his family and he seemed to love his children, he could also be very cruel towards Grace, even before the fire. He was not an attentive husband.
I almost didn’t read this book despite the cover and the synopsis. I had previous experience with the author when I’d read The Pilot’s Wife, and that one left me disappointed. I’m glad I picked this one up, because once I did, I couldn’t put it down! I will definitely try this author again!
This will be a good selection for book clubs. You can visit the author’s website to read an excerpt of the book, view a reading guide, and learn more about Anita Shreve.