NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

3.0 out of 5 stars - Lovely story about rebuilding life and family during the horrors of war...

A woman awakens inside a casualty tent in France in 1916. She cannot remember who she is or how she came to be there. Wounded in body and spirit, she chooses the name Stella Bain for herself as she resumes familiar duties as nurse aide and ambulance driver. For some reason she is driven to London to seek out Admiralty House where she believes she will figure out some answers to her situation. She leaves France and is found in desperate circumstances outside a lovely home owned by Dr. August Bridge and his wife, Lily. Stella falls ill with pneumonia and is nursed back to health by the Bridges. Finally, upon visiting Admiralty House after her convalescence, she is recognized and called by her real name. It is then that she begins to recover her memories and to remember what drove her from her home and to the battlefields far away. She begins a course of "talk therapy" with Dr. Bridge who has developed an interest in psychiatry and her reawakened artistic abilities help her make decisions about how to return to claim what is hers and to make amends for her mistakes.

Through the course of what is sometimes a bit of a disjointed narrative, Stella (Etna) moves steadily toward forgiveness of herself and others as well as to achieve her independence and seek the love she was denied. An interesting topic in the book was that of shell shock, seen in so many returning soldiers after the war.

I'd recommend this to any fan of Anita Shreve and to a book club group wanting a novel dealing with the human side of the effects of war in a time when women were not allowed much freedom in their personal lives.

Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the e-book ARC to review.

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