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Publisher's Summary

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in a London garden, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in. However, 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.

©2013 Anita Shreve (P)2013 W F Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Poised and absolutely steady-handed, this is a gripping piece of deconstruction" ( Sunday Times on Testimony)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-18

Great story

Loved it. But what a shame about most of the male voices. Dreadful. I almost gave up listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Merelina
  • 06-08-14

Penelope Rawlings is an excellent narrator

A good narrator means a good listen, with no mis-pronouncations! An interesting story, telling what happens when you lose your memory, the fear is felt frequently by Stella till she finally finds herself again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan Whitehead
  • 06-21-18

The Lives of Stella Bain

Another brilliant story from Anita Shreve. I wasn’t aware unti well into this story that it was a sequel to ‘All he ever wanted’. It was fascinating seeing the world through the female protagonist.

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  • Liz... Bristol
  • 07-13-15

Poor narration spoils an ok story.

Bought this for my wife, as she's an Anita Shreve fan, but as yet she's not listened to it. As a man, I've found it passable listening. Storyline was decent but not gripping. The fly in the ointment was Penelope Rawlins's performance. Other listeners may differ, but her 'normal' voice was difficult to take, but then there came all the different male voices: oh dear. She tends to make them all sound like automatons with a lack of variation in tone or emphasis. The nearer the end, the more male voices there are, the less ignorable the problem was. Maybe it won't bother you as much. I would be wary of other narrations by Ms Rawlins, I'm afraid.
The story tells of an American woman's experiences around a difficult marriage and as a nurse/driver during WW1 in France when she loses her memory. Whilst she faces some horrific events in the War, I feel that Shreve doesn't really give them full weight, rather surfing over them. As I'm not familiar with her writing, I don't know if that is her style. The effect for me was to have less belief in her understanding of what her characters were going through.

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  • Jane
  • 06-25-14

Not Anita Shreve's best

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I have read all of Anita Shreve's books but this was the first time on an audio book. I am not sure if it was the narration or the writing but it was not a huge success.

Would you recommend The Lives of Stella Bain to your friends? Why or why not?

Probably not. There seem to be a lot of books being written about the First World War at present, no doubt because of the centenary, and Anita Shreve has written a number of historical books, concentrating mostly on the American north-east. This also moved back to the US but the first part of the book concerned the memory loss of the protagonist in Northern France. The story was not entirely convincing and almost formulaic in structure.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Penelope Rawlins?

Yes but preferably one where there were no British characters.

Could you see The Lives of Stella Bain being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

No a bit too thin and interiorised to make into a film or TV series

Any additional comments?

It won't make me give up on Anita Shreve.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • D. P. Applebaum
  • 05-05-14

disappointing and spoiled by the narration

Would you try another book written by Anita Shreve or narrated by Penelope Rawlins?

I like Anita Shreve and the story had the potential to draw me in but the narration was very poor - dreadful accents for the English and for all the male characters. Very unconvincing and quite irritating. A pity.

Would you ever listen to anything by Anita Shreve again?

I would certainly read another book by Anita Shreve as I have enjoyed many of her books in the past.

Would you be willing to try another one of Penelope Rawlins’s performances?

Definitely not

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  • Vivien
  • 04-30-14

Very disappointing

What would have made The Lives of Stella Bain better?

I have enjoyed other Anita Shreve books but this one just left me cold. The story of Stella or the lady she turns out to be is played put against the background of WW1 and has been well researched. But it didn't work for me! I could not believe in any of the characters or in the stilted and often pompous and overwritten dialogue - made worse by the way the narrator tried to put on male voices. There were so many clichés, so many times when the scenes or event was over described, overwritten. It was a struggle to finish and I really didn't care very much what happened to any of them.

Would you ever listen to anything by Anita Shreve again?

Perhaps - one of her earlier books.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Penelope Rawlins?

This didn't have to be read by a woman - and certainly wasn't helped by Penelope's attempts at different male voices. Perhaps Juliet Stevenson but the dialogue made it a difficult task for anyone.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Well researched on WW1 and effects of shell shock and the work of the VADs