Title: The Stars Are Fire
Author: Anita Shreve
Published: May 2017
Summary: Grace Holland is mother of two and married, leading a quiet 1940-something housewife life in New England. She spends her days cleaning and taking care of her small children, finding respite in her best friend and neighbor Rosie; her evenings are spent bidding to her husband’s beck and call. Grace isn’t particularly happy and grows less so when she discovers she is pregnant with a baby they can’t afford and didn’t plan. Life as she knows it, however, is completely turned upside down when wildfire ravages her neighborhood. Grace has to dig deep and find her grit in order to ensure the safety of her family, learning a lot about herself and life along the way.
Thoughts: This is the first time I have read Shreve’s work, surprising considering how prolific her writing is. Although it took me a while to get into this story, once I did, I cruised along. The beginning can be difficult to get through. Shreve spends time really illustrating to the reader how trapped Grace is in her life with her husband and children. Her husband is not a particularly nice man and makes sure that Grace knows he is in charge. Shreve goes into unpleasant detail of this life, which can be tough to read at times and a bit graphic. Once I pushed through that though, and got to see Grace in survival mode, I really got into the story. Grace was forced to be a submissive wife, but the circumstance she finds herself in requires her to find strength she never knew she had. It was lovely to see Grace discover this about herself. Grace comes into a renaissance of sorts, although the road isn’t without its bumps. She adjusts to the world having to care for herself and her family after having lived life only in her home before. She meets new people, makes new relationships, and learns that she can have a different life than the one she had before the fire. Although I gave a 4 star rating, I would more likely give it 3.5 stars. 4 is too generous, but 3 seemed stingy. There was something missing for me in this story, but it’s hard for me to exactly say what it was. This story will not stick with me for long. Maybe it was because I didn’t really click with Grace or the style of the story telling wasn’t epic like I imagined a story about surviving a fire and making in your own to be. Like I said, I can’t quite say why, but this book left me without a strong impression, almost hollow.