An epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from best-selling author Anita Shreve.
When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.
A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.
In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.
©2013 Anita Shreve (P)2013 Hachette
“Narrator Hope Davis brings an almost painful clarity to Stella's conviction that she must have done something terrible before she got the shrapnel wounds that hospitalized her. Davis makes each new memory revelation significant. The shock in her voice is palpable when Stella learns who she really is, and she's completely convincing as memories overwhelm, filling in Stella's blank spaces. Anita Shreve's books often begin with an intriguing premise that somehow slides into another, completely different, direction before the conclusion. Here Davis makes Shreve's plot turns and surprises credible without resorting to melodrama. An engrossing listen.” (AudioFile)
Anita Shreve has written several books that I really enjoyed, but this was not one of her better stories. None of the characters had much depth and I felt like the story was rushed. Maybe an okay beach read or to get through an airplane ride, but not enthralling.
Earlier this week I purchased "Stella Bain" (audiobook) I started listening to it and then finally gave up on it. I may try again later but I probably won't. For me it fell into the same category as The English Patient. Beautiful writing but absolutely no story.
I can overlook a lot in a good story including bad writing. But I can't overlook no story even if it is good writing. If I'm going to plunk my money down on a book I insist on a story. In Stella Bain I felt that the author was enamored by her own prose and was indulging herself by trying to work her words into some sort of a story in order to show how clever she was. If she gets off on stroking her ego that's her business but it really ticks me off when an author does it on my dime. Anita Shreve has been a hit and miss author for me in the past but I am definitely over her now.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
This is the first book I have read by Anita Shreve. I found the opening of the book gripping. I could imagine walking up not knowing where you are or who you are. Shreve has a young woman waking up in a military hospital in France in 1916, suffering from pneumonia, shell shock and debilitating pains in her feet from shrapnel. She cannot remember her name but remember she was a nurse’s aid and drove an ambulance. Stella spoke only a little French but a nun spoke English, from Stella’s accent they tried to figure out if she was Canadian or American. Shreve writes with a quite urgency about aspects of life during world war one. The descriptions of Stella’s time in the field and hospital in France are especially compelling. She delves into the nature of shell shock and memory loss. Shreve has created a memorable character in Stella, a woman more independent and forth right than the male authorities of 1916 are comfortable dealing with. One of the key attributes of Stella is she does not give up no matter how hard or dangerous the going may be. Toward the end of the book the extensive dialogue and courtroom testimony moves the story along swiftly. I like the way she ties up everything at the end of the book. I think Shreve did a good job showing the turmoil of the time and the rapidly social changes occurring during WWI. Hope Davis did a good job narrating the story.
A plot that progressed and not so much pointless discussion of non events. I have loved her other books and they had stories that moved along. This would have been a good two hour book
Not having written it so i spent good money on it.
There was nothing i enjoyed about it
I looked forward to it as i am lover of ww one books and this was very bad
The narrator/performer did well with capturing the characters' personalities as I had imagined them. It is another fine example of what I love about Anita Shreve's work, historically correct with interesting characters in a story that begs to continue reading.
This book gave the reader a lot of locations. You were able to meet Stella Bain and learn about her slowly as her story unfolds at the front and in England. With her loss of memory, you keep hoping to find out more about her as she seeks answers. Something from within her keeps driving her to the Admiralty in London. I really enjoyed the first 2/3rds of the book, but the ending was not as polished as I thought it should be. I felt as though I was a bystander at the front and in London but when she eventually learns who she is, it wasn't as tightly written and I kind of lost a portion of my involvement with the character. The narrator was fine and did not detract in my mind. I don't regret this book, but I'm not so sure I would read it again.
I am an avid fan of Anita Shreve's but could not get into this book. I usually have read her in hardcopy so maybe it just didn't translate to audio for me, but I kept starting it over and over and nothing ever grabbed me.
sure - because I have loved everything of hers before...but I hope it is better
I love Anita Shreve's books. She writes characters so well you feel their pain, experience their joys and want to know what happens to them. This book is good--not her best, but it's a good read. The character we meet as Stella Bain is complex, self-reflecting and deeply engaged by life. It's a good mystery and an excellent character portrayal. My one problem is that the ending seems "tacked on" a bit. You almost felt like Shreve was tired of the story and just decided to stick an "and then it ended this way" on. It's definitely worth the time, though.
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