Title: Stella Bain

Author: Anita Shreve

Website: http://www.anitashreve.com

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: November 12, 2013

ISBN-10: 316098868

ISBN-13: 978-0316098861

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Source: Received for an honest review.

Book Description Courtesy of Amazon:

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.

My Thoughts:

I don’t read a lot of period pieces, but I may start looking for more. This book follows a woman who starts out calling herself Stella Bain–because that’s the only name she can come up with that sounds right when she wakes up in a field hospital in the middle of WWII.  She “knows” that’s her name, she realizes she’s comfortable in the hospital setting, and she knows she can drive an ambulance. But that’s all she knows at first.

The book follows her as she struggles to find answers about who she is, where she’s from and why she feels the unconscionable urge to get to a particular government building in London. And then it gets really interesting. The reader soon learns that this incredibly strong woman has gone and continues to go against almost every “womanly” stereotype for this time period, in order to be true to herself and the family she finally remembers.

This is an important piece of literature, not only for women in that time period who faced numerous expectations of what they should be willing to sacrifice of themselves for the sake of their husbands, their marriage or their children. (And no, I’m not saying that we, as wives and mothers, shouldn’t be willing to sacrifice some things, both then and now, but there’s a huge difference in expectations 70 years later). This book is also important in the discussion of early studies and the attempts to understand shell shock, aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This book is an eye opener of sorts, and should be thoroughly enjoyed by many.

Rating: 4

HEAT Rating: None

Reviewed By: Daysie W.

Review Courtesy of: My Book Addiction and More

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