The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve


My review

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve is a novel of fiction that takes place around the disastrous fire that ravaged Maine’s coast in 1947. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I listened to this on audible and enjoyed the narrator, Suzanne Elite Freeman.

May contain a mild spoiler…

The main character, Grace Holland, is suffering with a less than mediocre marriage with little to no attention from her husband, Gene. She enjoys her children, but really craves love and desire. A blazing fire heads toward the town and she must escape the area with her two children. All she has is her best friend as her husband Gene has left with the fire brigade to help control the fires.

As time moves on, Grace’s husband is still missing and she must make a new life to care for her kids. She moves into her mother-in-laws house and finds some belongings to help get her feet on the ground and enjoys a new found job. Her mom is there and other characters come into the story, including a new love, but the story still remains quite bland. I appreciated that Grace was making a new life and enjoying new freedoms, but there wasn’t enough going on to keep me interested. Even with the added twists, I found my mind wondering throughout the story.

It’s possible the main issue with the book for me were the characters. All of them were flat and never really developed which made the story uninteresting for me. I really wanted more development with Aiden and less information about Graces job with the doc.

It seems like a good story, but just wasn’t a fave and wound up in the okay range for me.
I do think the author writes very well and I’m still looking forward to reading some of her other books.



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.

About the Author

3530.jpgAnita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O’Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston. In the middle of her last year, she quit (something that, as a parent, she finds appalling now) to start writing. “I had this panicky sensation that it was now or never.”

Joking that she could wallpaper her bathroom with rejections from magazines for her short stories (“I really could have,” she says), she published her early work in literary journals. One of these stories, “Past the Island, Drifting,” won an O. Henry prize. Despite this accolade, she quickly learned that one couldn’t make a living writing short fiction. Switching to journalism, Shreve traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, where she lived for three years, working as a journalist for an African magazine. One of her novels, The Last Time They Met, contains bits and pieces from her time in Africa.

Returning to the United States, Shreve was a writer and editor for a number of magazines in New York. Later, when she began her family, she turned to freelancing, publishing in the New York Times Magazine, New York magazine and dozens of others. In 1989, she published her first novel, Eden Close. Since then she has written 12 other novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Pilot’s Wife, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, and Body Surfing.

In 1998, Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, she received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey, and The Pilot’s Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah’s Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, CBS aired the film version of The Pilot’s Wife, starring Christine Lahti, and in fall 2002, The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn, was released in movie theaters.

Still in love with the novel form, Shreve writes only in that genre. “The best analogy I can give to describe writing for me is daydreaming,” she says. “A certain amount of craft is brought to bear, but the experience feels very dreamlike.”

Shreve is married to a man she met when she was 13. She has two children and three stepchildren, and in the last eight years has made tuition payments to seven colleges and universities. – Goodreads

Other Books

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2 thoughts on “The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

  1. I wanted to say that I think the review of Stars are Fire done by Mischenko was way off when calling the characters spoiled and/or shallow. I think that Grace was anything but spoiled; how could anyone who experienced such tragedy even begin to be called spoiled? Did she ramshack the closet ? I would have. She took nothing without need. Every decision was thoroughly thought through and best option selected. Grace’s decisions and thinking shows more character than most people are able to develop in a lifetime. The author may not have spelled everything out in her writing but you can see that Grace made best choices not impusive choices and her motivation was clearly her children. Grace’s external tragedies forced her into a life that took a lot of calm strength to overcome, especially for a woman in the 1940s. Her actions would have been extremely scandalous at the time. It may not rank with the scandals of today, but but I do think there is alot of difference between Grace and women today when it comes to leaving an abusive relationship or hesitating about what people will think about decisions women make in the best interests of their children, I would never have gone to the bother of hiring a nurse or housekeeper. I am not that good of a person. So, put some deeper thought into what you are calling “not fully developed.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I think you misread my review. I never said that Grace was spoiled. What I said was that my review may contain mild spoilers, meaning I may have included parts of the book that might “spoil” the story for those who have not read it. I hope you understand this. I did say that the characters were flat because that’s how I feel. My review is my personal opinion about the book and any book that I read. ☺


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