INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In the summer of 1947, a long drought turned the coast of Maine into a tinderbox; in October, catastrophic fires engulfed a string of New England seaside towns. Set against the backdrop of those historical events, Anita Shreve’s novel investigates the inner life of a fascinating female heroine whose husband disappears into the inferno and never returns. Shreve creates characters who are full-blooded and rich in real contradictions, weaving a tale of regrowth after devastation and the rediscovery of courage and love.
Stuck in a loveless and uncommunicative marriage with her husband, Gene, young housewife and mother Grace Holland has resigned herself to a future of childcare and housework. It's just after World War II, and there aren't many other opportunities for married women in coastal Maine. But when, after a summer-long drought, a massive fire breaks out and threatens her home and community, Grace may have an unexpected chance not only to rebuild but also to rewrite her personal narrative. Shreve (Stella Bain) writes with fondness of the coastal New England landscape, and she provides plenty of vintage details to evoke postwar life. Characterizations, however, are less convincing; Gene's cruelty to Grace seems disproportionate to its purported rationale, and the novel's final pages feel implausible and anachronistic, even given Grace's newfound self-reliance. Nevertheless, many readers will be buoyed by Grace's strength and resourcefulness and will be eager to debate the ethical decisions she makes as she seizes her independence. 200,000-copy announced first printing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Having lived the majority of my life in southern coastal Maine. I heard many people’s tales of this horrific tale. I absolutely loved this story. Definitely first class and a terrific read. I will recommend this book, I throughly enjoyed it and wish it hadn’t ended.
I absolutely LOVED this book! I loved the main characters strength and courage. I was so sad it ended!
Really a 3.5
This is a good story and I very much liked the female characters, but the last 75 pages are too long without, ironically, enough information. I found myself turning to the end to find out what happens, then backing up to relevant passages. Shreve's ability to create story is unsurpassed- this was just not as tight as some of her other books.