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Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Weight of Water and The Pilot's Wife (an Oprah's Book Club selection): 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.

©2017 Anita Shreve (P)2017 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara
  • Out In The Wild Blue Yonder
  • 06-02-17

Disaster Strikes In 1947

This story is set on the Maine coast and deals with what is now referred to as "The Great Fires of 1947" where 200,000 acres of land and houses burned and it took almost a decade for the area to recover. This disaster forms the backdrop for another more personal story of crisis for the main character, Grace and her marriage.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and found myself listening with full attention. I loved the look at Maine in the late 1940's. I thought the description of the fire was heart pounding and harrowing. However, from a medical stand point, I struggled with the details related to burn victim care--even for the time. This was a small distraction for me and in the end it didn't ruin the story.

Be aware, the book deals with difficult topics, focusing on people in the midst of devastation coping with injury, loss and violence. Marital turbulence was also a strong theme. This was a fast paced listen and my first Shreve novel. I thought the blend of fiction during a nonfiction event was good. However, do keep in mind that parts of the story might contain too much graphic material and turmoil for some more gentle readers.

25 of 29 people found this review helpful

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An absolutely wonderful book

I enjoyed this book so much. It was a wonderful story very, very interesting. The characters were complex.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful

A book that taps into emotions making you truly feel, all the while transporting you into Graces world.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing effort from Shreve

There could have been so much more to Grace's story. This novel is predictable and lacks the period and historical details that would have made the somewhat uneventful story more interesting. The protagonist, while quite distasteful, lacked definition and an explanation of the reasons behind his behavior. He was poorly drawn and not quite horrific enough for me to be truly afraid of him. Shreve leaves too many questions unanswered -- especially about the mother in law, her jewelry, Gene's reverence towards his mother, etc.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully written

I’ve loved each and every book by Anita. She will be sorely missed. I am grateful for this last opportunity to see a period of time and a relationship through her eyes.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

90% Tragedy 10% Hope

As an avid reader of Anita Shreve’s novels I am a bit disappointed with “The Stars are Fire”. The character we’re all over the place. The storyline based on the real fire that occurred in coastal Maine in 1947 made it intriguing and perhaps a perspective of surviving such a horrific event. Other than that the story felt flat and too melodramatic.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story

I really liked the story, but the reader was flat. Unless she was speaking as a character, all her sentences ended on a down note, which is, to me, really boring.

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Bravo!

I have loved all of Ms. Shreve's books and this one is another pleasure. She transports you back in time, through difficult journeys and challenges. Real stories with hope and perseverance. Having grown up in New England and in the 50s, I especially appreciate the reminders of days past, simpler times in some ways. I never want the stories to end and certainly looked forward to her next writing. Thank you!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Tale of Emotional Strength and Courage

The beginning of the book failed to hold my interest. It starts with Grace hanging laundry in the kitchen, and complaining about the rain. Within the first two chapters at least twelve different characters are introduced. All the names and descriptions of daily routines, house layout and decor was like drinking out of a fire hose. It was difficult to stay focused. So many miscellaneous and ancillary stories seemed to be thrown in the first couple of chapters that my head was spinning trying to understand where the novel was headed.

As the smoke from the fire clears, the story came into better focus. The description of the immense fire and Grace and Rosie’s freezing night on the beach was breath-taking. The story of Grace ‘s fortitude, ingenuity and strength was a delight to read. I could not help but be proud of her growth and how she found a way to survive and take care of her children and mother. And even find some semblance of happiness for a time. Grace does as much as she can for her family, and is smart enough to accept her limitations and walk away when she has to. The book finishes strong and I'm glad I hung in beyond the first several chapters. The read was worth the struggle.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I missed you Anita, another major accomplishment!

Loved it, an amazing woman finds the limits to her strength. Strength she had no idea she possessed.