The Stars Are Fire
When Gene and Grace Holland married, life looked rosy. After all, he is kind and good-looking, she is in love, and they are happy. Grace’s friends live in tiny apartments, but Gene’s job pays well, so they own a house. He even bought her a washing machine. But now, Grace feels life souring. Gene is uncommunicative, their sex life goes from bad to worse, she struggles to raise children born 13 months apart, and is pregnant again.
Maine’s austere weather doesn’t help. Everyone in Hunts Beach longs for winter snow and spring rain to end, but in 1947, drought follows. Usually dank forests become dry as dust, one spark away from disaster. Grace prays for rain, but in October she hears of fires to the north. Then smoke and charred paper waft into her yard.
Grace gathers valuables while Gene joins the fire crew defending Hunts Beach. The flames are unstoppable, so Grace and her toddlers retreat to the ocean, and bury themselves in cold sand at the waterline. Grace miscarries her baby, the Hollands’ home is gone, and Gene was last seen walking into a wall of fire.
The Stars are Fire is a tale of survival on many levels. Award-winning Anita Shreve’s novel is terrific entertainment, and Grace’s personal story is particularly compelling. A once-naïve woman who doubted herself pulls her family and herself together after losing everything. Hunts Beach isn’t the only community which has to rebuild, just as Grace must reconstruct herself after her long emotional drought with Gene. I won’t reveal a spoiler which tests Grace even more deeply than flames, so you’ll just have to read The Stars are Fire to find out.