Stella Bain: Book summary and reviews of Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

Stella Bain

by Anita Shreve

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2013
    272 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Shreve's thoughtful, provocative, historical tale has modern resonance." - Publishers Weekly

"An exemplary addition to Shreve's already impressive oeuvre." - Kirkus

"The masses of Shreve fans will line up for this one, as will some Downton Abbey enthusiasts." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Stella Bain
When she is found in a hospital camp in France without a memory she gives the nurses the name "Stella Bain. The Great War, 1916, camps in France and England, the horror of war and its effects on the psyches of those involved and a woman with a past that she must uncover. Though it will take a while, she will and this will lead to a court case and a new life, while making peace with her old.

This is when shell shock was first being talked about and studied, the talking cure proposed by Freud was beginning to be used in the treatment of this condition .What makes this book so different is that it recognizes the effects of shell shock on the nurses and the others in the camps who also saw horrible things and had to live with what they had seen. A woman had few choices in this time period and remembering that it is easy to understand some of the decisions she made in her life. The court case I am not sure about, not sure if a judge would have been as fair to a woman as this one was, but it might have helped that her husband was not at all a sympathetic person, thinking he was above even the dictates of the court.

A hopeful book about the rebuilding of a life, Shreve treats her characters with a tenderness and a gentleness and brings them to life. I think she must have liked her character Stella Bain quite a bit. I did too.

ARC from NetGalley.

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Author Information

Anita Shreve Author Biography

Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts. Her novels include The Pilot's Wife, The Weight of Water, Eden Close, Strange Fits of Passion, Where or When, and Resistance. She divides her time between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Anita Shreve began writing fiction while working as a high school teacher after graduating from Tufts University. Although one of her first published stories, "Past the Island, Drifting," was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975, Shreve felt she couldn't make a living as a fiction writer so she became a journalist. She traveled to Africa and spent three years in Kenya, writing articles that appeared in magazines such as Quest, US, and Newsweek. Back in the United States, she turned to raising her children and writing freelance articles for ...

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