The Stars Are Fire
The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Grace Holland is living a fairly ordinary-if not particularly happy-life with her husband Gene and their two young children in Maine. It's the late 1940s, and Grace's life revolves around Gene and her family. She cannot drive, she does not have a job, and her role in life is pretty clearly laid out: serve her husband and their children. All that changes when an awful drought hits Maine. As a horrible string of fires burns near Bar Harbor, where Grace and her family live, Gene joins a group of other men to help fight the blazes. Suddenly, Grace is awoken in the night by little Claire: the fire is upon the house. Gene is still gone, so Claire rushes to save Claire and baby Tom, as well as her best friend Rosie and Rosie's two young children. They huddle in the sand near the ocean for hours, and when they are finally rescued, nothing will ever be the same.
This was an amazing book. I'm not always an historical fiction fan (the story is based on actual fire that occurred in Maine), but I'll make an exception for Shreve, whom I've loved since her beautiful novel, The Pilot's Wife. There is just something poignant and touching about this novel. I was immediately drawn into Grace's story, and I read the novel quickly over the course of a day or so. Shreve creates a fierce and wonderful character in Grace, and you cannot help but root for her.
Grace is held back by so much in her life: her gender, her financial circumstances, her husband. After experiencing such a terrible loss: her entire town is basically burned to the ground, including her home, it's amazing to watch her resilience in the face of such horror. In many ways, it's not as if a lot happens in this novel, yet I feel like so much occurs during Grace's journey. I so loved her spirit, and I also wanted to swoop in and take away all the horrible things that occurred in her life.
I don't want to go into much detail and ruin the details of the plot, but I'll just say that this is a lovely book, with well-drawn characters--led by the tough and wonderful Grace. I was captivated by the story, and I would certainly recommend the novel. 4 stars. More at http://justacatandabookatherside.blogspot.com