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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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    5 out of 5 stars

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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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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    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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The Stars Are Fire!

Magnificent! If you’re in the mood for a harrowing experience, the extraordinary in the ordinary, a bit of suspense, and romance, this is the book for you. My only suggestion is that it could have been a couple of chapters longer.

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Wonderful story of strength and endurance.

A young mother in sudden terrifying situations manages to ensure survival for herself and her two young children. Her courage and tenacity seem to come naturally. the calm, even narration compliments the determination of the main character and of the story itself. highly recommended!

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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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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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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!!