The Stars Are Fire, Anita Shreve, Knopf, out now
Another great read from a reliable writer. In 1947, Grace lives on the Maine coast with her husband and two young children. She is trapped in her life, pregnant with her third and unhappy in her marriage.
After a long dry summer, the Maine coast is overwhelmed by a fast-moving fire (this really happened in October 1947). While the men fight the fire, the women watch their homes burn and eventually, they and their children seek safety in the sea.
When Grace emerges from the sea, it is to a world where her home and community have been destroyed and her husband is missing. She is left to build a new life for herself and her children.
There is nothing startling in this book, as the issues are well established as a part of women’s fiction, but the story telling and characterization are terrific, pulling the reader onward as Grace fights, first to survive the fire, and then as a single parent.