Thursday 15 May 2014

Review ~ The Lives of Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Little, Brown Books
MARCH 2014

I've long been a fan of Anita Shreve and fell completely in love with her earlier books, so to have a continuation, of sorts, of one of her previous stories seemed like the best of worlds. In The Lives of Stella Bain, we are reintroduced to a character from All He Ever Wanted and whilst the nod to the past is done with a remarkably light touch, there may well be an element of confusion if you ponder too much about the whys and wherefores. Personally, I think it’s best to read the story on its own merits with the occasional delight of revelation, but if you haven’t read All He Ever Wanted, then it really doesn’t matter.

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, an American woman is taken to one of the French field hospitals. At first, she has no recollection of who she is, or of why she is in such a debilitated state and even her journey to London and into the care of renowned psychologist, Doctor August Bridge, fails to elicit a definitive response. And then, softly, softly as the story starts to unfurl, we get the answers into why Stella’s life has taken such a downward turn.

As always, Anita Shreve delves into the minutiae of daily life and her sparse narrative style allows a perceptive and introspective look into the complexity of lives which are lost and broken by circumstance. Whilst in many ways this is not an exciting story, there’s no explicit drama or deliberate angst, but what you do get, is an insightful and beautifully written look at the human condition, and of the need we all have for reparation, and in to making amends for our actions, we attempt to learn more about ourselves. 

My thanks to Little, Brown Books and NetGalley for my copy of this book.


About the Author

Anita Shreve

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